The Program


The University of Wisconsin-Madison welcomes international students from over 120 different countries. International students make up over 6,000 of the student population on campus. International students come to the United States only days or weeks before the semester begins. Once they arrive, they are confronted with language barriers, culture shock, loneliness, and academic stress, among other worries. The BRIDGE program was created to help new international students connect with UW-Madison student mentors and alleviate their concerns throughout the semester and make friends with people all across the world. BRIDGE is open to all international students and has evolved to be a place of community for all those who join the program.

Mission/Overall Purpose of the BRIDGE program is to:

  1. Build the environment for cross-cultural friendships and community through engaging in meaningful, ongoing relationships with BRIDGE participants of diverse backgrounds.
  2. Increase students’ cross-cultural awareness and global competencies, as well as cross-cultural leadership capacity.
  3. Assist international students with the transition to the United States and to UW-Madison.
  4. Provide a cross-cultural experience to live out the Wisconsin Experience’s core values of empathy, humility, curiosity, and purposeful action.

How the Program Works

International students are matched with UW student mentors to facilitate acclimation to the University and to participate in group activities throughout the semester. International mentees learn about UW-Madison and the surrounding community, cultural customs of the area, and strategies for academic success in America. Mentors also benefit from the international students by learning about other countries, cultures, values and traditions. Participants in BRIDGE are cultural ambassadors and contribute to cultural sharing and exchanges throughout the program.

For UW-Madison BRIDGE Mentors

UW-Madison students interested in learning about other cultures and introducing international students to life in the United States can volunteer to be a BRIDGE mentor. BRIDGE mentors will receive training and attend leadership and cultural-competency activities to help develop strong skills which will help them develop into global citizens. Mentors will also help coordinate fun activities throughout the semester.

* Make friends with students from around the world
* Volunteer and make a difference
* Introduce new international students to your culture
* Facilitate academic success of international students
* Learn about other countries and their people
* Learn about the different opportunities to study abroad

For Incoming International Mentees

Learn about other cultures and more of your own by joining BRIDGE! Aside from having mentors to answer your questions and facilitate fun activities, you will also get a chance to teach your mentees about your country, your culture, and your values.

You will get a personal guide who can help with questions about the University, the Madison community, and anything you would want to know about the U.S.A. and the U.S. Americans.

* Explore Madison with your mentor
* Learn about the many things to do in Wisconsin and in the U. S.
* Gain a better understanding of U.S. English language, culture and values
* Attend events with your mentor and other members of BRIDGE
* Gain important intercultural skills