Publication Date

2005

Abstract

Beloit College has established itself as a school with a commitment to internationalization. One of their internationalization attempts was the Inter Program, a peer-mentoring program that matches new international students with mostly returning U.S. students. This paper looks at the Inter program as an exploratory case study to investigate what were the factors that influenced interaction or non-interaction between U.S. and international students within the Inter Program. The research also asks in what ways did international students establish intercultural friendships outside of the Inter Program. The paper additionally attempts to find out what caused the returning students, particularly the U.S. students, to not participate in the Inter Program using the context of social exchange theory. Researcher observation, a survey and four student interviews were used as methods to answer the above mentioned research questions. Factors that influence interaction include: altruistic motives, cross-cultural experience and matching of the partners. Factors that hindered interaction include: lack of time, assumptions about the other group, organization of the program and matching. International students do make friends with U.S. students especially through classmates and roommates at an informal and unstructured level. The use of social exchange theory to explain U.S. non-interaction was only minimal and did not show up in the data in a significant way.

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