Make a new American friend this semester through the VIP Program!

Are you looking for a way to connect with other students at SJSU and make a new American friend? Sign up for the Virtual International Partners (VIP) program this spring!

The VIP program will pair you up with American students at SJSU to connect with virtually throughout the semester. Over the course of the program (February 7 – May 6, 2022) you will meet with your partner(s) at least 5 times to have discussions on a variety of topics (ex: food, holidays, family, school, etc.) and learn about each other. At the end of the program, participants will be recognized with a certificate of participation, and will be invited to attend our virtual reception for all participating students.

It is completely free, and it is not a class – it’s a great opportunity for you to engage in a fun cultural exchange, learn about American culture, make a new friend, and improve your communication skills along the way!

Sign up by completing this brief form ( by January 21, 2022! The Study Abroad and Away office will reach out with the program schedule and to confirm your participation in late January.

Questions? Email See the FAQs below for more details!

What do I need to do as a participant?

We ask that anyone who chooses to participate in the program will commit to the full semester and agree to participate fully – because your partner will be eager to get the most out of the experience too! This includes the following:

  • Virtually meet with your partner(s) for the designated conversation sessions according to the program schedule 
  • Be responsive to your partner(s) and respond promptly to any communications you receive from them or the Study Abroad and Away office in a timely manner.
  • Be respectful in your communication with your partner(s); discriminatory language of any kind will not be tolerated.
  • Be yourself and have fun! 

There will also be some opportunities to participate in discussions to reflect on what you’re learning, in addition to a live session at the end of the program that will bring all participants together for final reflection and celebration; we highly encourage you to attend and participate in these events. 

How long should meetings last? How often should we meet?

The program will run from February 7 to May 6, 2022. Students who sign up will receive the program schedule, which will outline the weeks you are expected to meet with your partner and what topic to discuss during that meeting. The sessions will take place approximately every other week. During an assigned week, you should be meeting with your partner for a minimum of one hour.  Most of our past participants said that this was easy and they ended up talking longer and longer as they got to know their partners!

How do we figure out the time for meeting? 

This will be up to you and your partner(s) to decide what time works best for you. We will provide a resource and some tips on how to identify a time that will work for both of you when connecting you with your partner.

What are the meetings/topics about?

Each meeting will have a different discussion topic to focus on (ex: food, holidays, family, school, etc.). We’ll provide you with some potential questions that you can ask each other to get the conversation started. We’ll provide you with the list of questions for that topic approximately one week before you should be meeting for that session. The topics and questions are starting points to explore different themes. You don’t have to answer every question and we encourage you to go where the conversation takes you. 

How many partners will I have?

You may be assigned between 1-2 partners. If you have more than one partner, we ask that you try to schedule your sessions so that you can communicate and meet together as a group, as much as possible. 

How will I be matched with a partner?

As part of the application process, you will complete a brief form that contains some questions about yourself. Your answers will help provide the Study Abroad and Away office with information needed to match you with a partner. We try the best we can to match you up based on similar interests or preferences, but there could be some differences too. This is part of the experience, to learn something new! We ask you to be open-minded, respectful and willing to communicate with the partner(s) assigned to you. 

Why should I participate?

There are many reasons to participate in the VIP program! Some of the benefits from participating include: 

  • Learning about another culture and country
  • Reflecting and sharing about your own culture
  • Making a new friend and expanding your global network
  • Building valuable skills in intercultural communication that apply to any career
  • Gaining cultural knowledge to prepare for any future travels or study abroad programs

Plus, it’s completely free, it’s fun, and it’s flexible to your schedule! 

Written by Erin Kellly-Weber, Program Specialist, Study Abroad and Away

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