GLOBE Program

Carlson School Campus Life Program Continues to Support International Students Throughout Pandemic

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

When Kenzi Nelson and fellow members of the GLOBE campus life program met a group of international students at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in January, everyone was ready for a traditional exchange program: courses and studying on campus, fun off-campus activities, and engagement opportunities, all in-person.

Thanks to COVID-19, the experience has been anything but normal.

Instead, GLOBE has gone virtual, hosting BINGO games, trivia, dinner-making parties, and more for members now based all over, yes, the globe.

“We put a lot into the GLOBE program to make it a good experience for everyone,” says Nelson, GLOBE’s president. “This year, it ended abruptly and we want to be a support system and help in any way we can.”

In a typical semester, GLOBE members 'buddy up' with international students from partner business schools around the world. GLOBE buddies assist them with their students, organize social events, and help students adjust to life as a student at the Carlson School and University of Minnesota. From greeting them at the airport upon their arrival to taking part in typical American cultural activities, such as pumpkin carving in the fall, bonfires, yard games, and ice skating, GLOBE students and their buddies stay with each other throughout the year, a commitment kept this semester too.

“What the GLOBE program is all about is keeping international students from being isolated, and that’s especially important with everything that’s going on now,” says Jackie Combs, education abroad program manager in the Carlson Global Institute and the staff member who assists the program. “It’s already a huge culture shift for all of us, but to have to physically distance yourself from others while being so far away from home is an additional stressor our international students are dealing with. These activities and these connections are invaluable.” 

More than 40 exchange students arrived in Minnesota to study at the Carlson School in Spring 2020. About half of them remained in the Twin Cities area while many others traveled back to their home country. Each set of students faced challenges, but no matter whether the students stayed in Minnesota or went to their home country, a GLOBE buddy was with them to help them through this difficult time.

“No matter what, we want to be there and give everyone someone to talk to,” Nelson says. “This is our way of offering our international community an escape, forget these struggles, and come together.”

“What the GLOBE program is all about is keeping international students from being isolated, and that’s especially important with everything that’s going on now. It’s already a huge culture shift for all of us, but to have to physically distance yourself from others while being so far away from home is an additional stressor our international students are dealing with. These activities and these connections are invaluable.” 

– Jackie Combs