Buddy system is a tutoring program that is mainly implemented by universities, but not necessarily: you can find a buddy program also at work or if you take part in international exchange programs.
Universities may offer the buddy program as an added student support service. A buddy is a mentor, someone who knows a particular environment deeply enough to be your guide and point of reference. Your buddies may come in handy when you have just enrolled in your degree course. They can guide you through the bureaucratic process, give you tips for the classes and exams, show you the hidden corners of your campus, and much more.
The buddy program at work has the same purposes as the previous one: finding a new employee mentor. If you are new in a company, having a reference point can help you when you don’t know who to reach out to.
Buddy program – Importance
Everybody felt lost at least once in their life, during their first days in a new environment. The most common questions, in which you found no answer, could probably have been: how much time do I need to adapt to this new system? Will I be able to make new friendships? Why does everything seem impossible, and all the others get fit to it so easily? It is here that a buddy is a solution to your problems! Here are the main goals of the buddy program:
- Improving the welcome phase of newbies
- Developing the awareness of their new environment
- Fostering their commitment to their new community
A buddy plays a vital role to encourage communication and break down social barriers. In a cross-cultural context, they will also act as intercultural mediators since they deeply know the country or city of their partners. They can provide them with all customs and cultural information they would need to know. In each city, there are certain districts to avoid or specific non-written rules to follow.
A buddy can also operate as a mentor for people with disabilities. Usually, they involve them in activities that can range from gardening, art & crafts, cooking, sports. Providing with their help, they give access to hobbies and valuable activities.
You can apply for this buddy program as a volunteer in several NGOs. The European Union also has a portal dedicated to the European Voluntary Corps. Here you can find many positions as a volunteer to help people with disabilities, as well.
Buddy program – Implementation
If you want to implement a buddy program in your organization, you should distinguish several system variants. Continue reading our article to discover three kinds of buddy programs in detail!
Peer buddy program
At school, newly admitted students can be paired with older students. Or, students with low grades can be paired with top students: this can be a good strategy to get them close with people that can help them overcome their lack in subjects and obtain better marks. Some schools also give special credits for students who volunteer to be buddies.
At university, newbies can be paired with senior students or post-graduates. It aims to include new students on the campus and make them feel more involved in this community. Many universities use it as a marketing strategy. At the moment of enrollment, if the quality of the courses is the same, a student is more likely to choose a campus that provides a buddy program. This service is a valuable sign of taking care of their needs as individuals and their intention to create a welcoming environment for newbies.
Erasmus buddy program
The Erasmus+ program is wide and includes a variety of projects, but the most famous is the Erasmus for studies. Many students are scared to attend a foreign partner university for some months: finding accommodation, learning the local language, and meeting new people can be a big issue if you are not used to living abroad. Not to worry though, here comes the Erasmus buddy program!
In almost every university which is part of the Erasmus program, you can find an ESN section. ESN stands for Erasmus Student Network – a non-profit organization created to help students abroad. They collaborate with the host university’s international office, organizing many activities for exchange students and providing them with many helpful services. One of the ESN services is the buddy program!
ESN volunteers are also operating as buddies for the incoming Erasmus students of their university. The buddies welcome and help exchange students and fulfill several tasks:
- provide help in getting Erasmus settled in their new city and university
- answer all questions before their arrival
- help exchange students with documentation
- they can also hang out and get an inside look at the student life
- they help to expand your Erasmus+ experience
Some ESN countries also adopt specific tools to match ESN volunteers and exchange students looking for a buddy. For instance, ESN Italy has implemented the app Papaya, available free of charge both for Android and iOS smartphones.
To use this ESN matching system is very easy:
- Sign in
- Complete your profile. The more detailed it is, the better.
- Select the “Buddy System” project
- Get to know your buddy. An ESN volunteer is in charge of assigning matches. You just have to wait for it!
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Buddy program at work
At a workplace, a buddy program comes in handy for the introduction of newcomers to your company.
How to implement it? You can introduce it as part of their onboarding process. You can assign newcomers to a specific project manager who will be in charge of orienting them to the corporate culture and sharing all the know-how for delivering tasks at the best possible.
The benefits will be many. Your new employees will feel more welcome, having a point of reference for anything. They will also feel more comfortable! You will transmit to them that you want to encourage socialization at the workplace. Their buddy will be like their first friend; afterward, the other colleagues will also be more than just people to work with. If they feel at ease at your workplace, you will also raise your statistics of employees’ retention.
Buddy system – Conclusions
I hope that this article has persuaded you to implement the buddy system also in your organization! The long-term benefits will be many. Especially in this age, in which everyone pays attention to the human side of each activity. Since there are many competitors among schools, associations, and companies, what makes a difference is how you care about the inner state of the people. Assigning a buddy is a great starting point!
Don’t miss the other articles on our blog! You can find many travel tips, especially on organizing your journey and the documentation you will need.
Passport Photo Online helps you in particular in obtaining your document picture, saving time and money.
Maria Luisa Balacco, even though everyone calls her Vera, is an Italian translator, specialized in web and legal translations. At PhotoAiD, she deals with web content, both as copywriter and translator for the app and website. She also works as an SEO Outreach Specialist.
She is keen on Slavic cultures and languages. During her linguistic studies, she had several experiences abroad and volunteered for the ESN section of her university. She is still traveling as much as possible, also devoting time to photography. She loves urban and street art photography.