Friendship Without Borders

Story by Peter Stampher, Photo Courtesy of Ulli Schraml

International students,Fernando Budiargo and Alexandra Kohtze, on a kayaking trip at  Larabee State Park.
International students,Fernando Budiargo and Alexandra Kohtze, on a kayaking trip at
Larabee State Park.

From sporting events to whale watching to kayaking and white water rafting, one club at Whatcom Community College offers exciting activities to all students at an affordable rate.

The International Friendship Club (IFC) promotes cross cultural awareness and diversity on Whatcom’s campus through the organization of group activities, retreats, educational programing, workshops, and special events. “The goal is to integrate international students into campus life, to introduce them to other students and to do this in a safe environment,” said club advisor Ulli Schraml.

The club was established in 1991 and is one of the longest running clubs on campus, Schraml said. He has been an advisor to the club for 13 years

The IFC has organized many events this spring quarter at Whatcom. One recent event which took place on May 11, was a trip to Seattle to watch a Mariners game at Safeco Field. Students met on Whatcom’s campus and took a bus to Seattle in the morning. This gave students an opportunity to hangout in the city of Seattle before going to the baseball game, said international student and participant Fernando Budiargo.

While in Seattle Budiargo grabbed lunch, went shopping and visited the Space Needle before meeting back up with the group to attend the Mariners game. “[The baseball game] was fun because as an international student it was my first live baseball game,” Budiargo said.

This is not the only new experience the IFC’s organized events has offered Budiargo, he said. He said he also participated in a kayaking trip organized by the club on May 18 at Larrabee State park along with about 14 other students.

The club contracted with Moondance Sea Kayaking to provide all the equipment necessary for the trip, said Schraml. The company gave the club a special rate on the equipment rentals allowing the club to charge participants $15.

“It’s really cheap for the experience,” Budiargo said, adding that the trip consisted of about three hours of kayaking. According to the Moondance Sea Kayaking Co.’s website, a similar length trip costs $65 with tax.

The value of the trips offered by the IFC has encouraged Budiargo to sign up for activities offered over the summer. He has already paid for another ocean kayaking trip as well as a river rafting trip.

The club is also hosting an end of the year school party and potluck at Western Washington University’s Lakewood Boathouse located on Lake Whatcom June 8. The club will be providing food at the event, but students are also encouraged to bring food to share. The club has rented out the McDonald Lounge at Lakewood for the event.

Funding for the club come from the International Programs Budget and from funding allocated by Student Council, Schraml said. “[Student Council] has been supporting us for a long time and they know their money is well invested,” he said.

The activities organized by the club are open to all students. “This year we had a nice number of American students [participate],” Schraml said. The number of spots open depends on the activity, he said. Some activities the club conducts can only accommodate a set number of students due to safety and equipment restrictions.

Registered students usually meet on campus the day of the event. Students then carpool to the event in one or more vans provided by the college. The club also sometimes utilizes a bus that can fit up to 50 people, said Schraml. Students can sign up to participate in activities with the group in the International Office located in the Syre Student Center, room 201C.

“[IFC events are] a great way for domestic and international students to get together and learn about each other’s cultures,” said Schraml.

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