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UCLA Global Siblings program brings Bruins together from across the world

(Anna Richardson/Daily Bruin)

By Dylan Winward

June 11, 2023 8:18 p.m.

For Jasmine Mundo, the most valuable lessons she learned at UCLA came not from the classroom but from meeting students around the world.

The UCLA Global Siblings program, which is run by the UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, aims to pair UCLA students from the United States with international Bruins to learn about each other’s cultures, according to the program’s website. The program pairs “siblings” into “families,” which are groups of 10-30 students who meet three times per quarter for one academic year.

The Global Siblings Program also aims to make international students feel more welcome in the U.S., said the Dashew Center in an emailed statement. Participants engage in a range of activities, including visits to local museums and restaurants, it added.

Filipe Fielder, a first-year economics doctoral student who participated in the program, said he felt the program helped him settle into UCLA after moving from Brazil by giving him the opportunity to learn more about American social conventions. He added that he found while it was normal to hug his friends in Brazil, there were different social expectations in the U.S.

Fielder said that his experience going to an NBA game as part of the program allowed him to learn more about American approaches to sport and how they differ from his experience in Brazil. While in Brazil watching the game is central to the viewing experience, Fielder said he was amazed at the entertainment American sports venues provide during breaks in game time.

“To me, it was a full lesson on American culture regarding sports because in Brazil, it is very different,” he said. “The sport itself is just one of the things that you see in the stadium.”

Mundo said that as a fourth-year Asian studies student, she valued the experience of being able to meet students from different countries across Asia. She added that her family in the program consisted primarily of Japanese speakers, helping her to learn to communicate with people who speak different languages through an interpreter.

“Some people were like, ‘What does that word mean?’ or ‘What are they saying right now?’” she said. “It takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in that situation, but it really just leads (you) to grow.”

Fielder also said he valued the opportunity to talk with students who he wouldn’t ordinarily meet, such as undergraduate students. He added that the program allowed him to give them advice on graduate school applications and learn more about the undergraduate experience in the U.S.

“Global Siblings was … (an) opportunity to create a community with a lot of different students to get to know the culture of the U.S.,” he said. “Those things gave me the opportunity to get to know more of their (undergraduate students) perspective.”

Mundo also said the program was a great opportunity to meet students from many different majors, fostering connections between students who primarily take STEM classes and those more interested in the humanities. She added that creating a diverse network allowed international students to more easily hear about and access campus resources.

Cyrus Ho, a fourth-year economics student, said he felt the global siblings program allows international students to integrate with the UCLA community more smoothly. He said that as an international student, he found it difficult to build friendships upon first arriving at UCLA.

“When I first came here, as a freshman, I just found you talk to many people on campus, but you rarely connect with them,” said Ho, who joined the program as a staff organizer last year. “I think it’s a really good way as incoming international students to get a group of six people to hang out together.”

Mundo added that she hopes the program has helped students who aren’t from LA form a community.

“Coming to LA is overwhelming if you’re not already here,” she said. “I think it’s really a good opportunity for students to make friends and feel at home here when they’re so new and (it’s) such a different environment.”

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Dylan Winward | Features and student life editor
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
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