Although Oklahoma Christian University is among the best universities in the U.S. for international students, even providing incoming students welcome kits with basic items like sheets and pillows, most international undergraduates do not have access to transportation to get around Edmond, OK.
To help international students at Oklahoma Christian who do not own cars, junior Claudia Dabbs created Eagle Buddy Rides, an Uber-like program on campus.
Dabbs said she started thinking about a ride-sharing service after she gave rides to international students last semester. After other students with cars showed an interest in helping out, Dabbs approached both former International Student Council (ISC) President David Cyusa and current president Isabella Preciado with her idea.
“I [also] talked to John Osborne and Leeanne Paris about the idea and they gave me ideas to make the program better,” Dabbs said. “I designed the program over the summer and started it mid-October after I got approval from the International Student Council executives and the Ethos office to give kudos for this.”
Eagle Buddy Rides relies on student volunteers, and when an international student needs a ride to the grocery store or a doctors’ appointment, they email Dabbs.
“I send out this email to the volunteers, and then someone emails and discusses a pick-up and drop-off date and time with the international student,” Dabbs said. “Once the ride has occurred, the student that gave the ride emails me a selfie and their ID number for a kudo.”
According to Dabbs, 15 students are currently signed up to give rides, and so far, five international students have received rides. Dabbs said she works on promoting Eagle Buddy Rides by sending out emails to international students to tell them about the service and announcing it in missions chapel, Spanish chapel, at ISC events and Student Government Association meetings.
“Next year, I hope to advertise Eagle Buddy Rides better and raise awareness of the International Student Council,” Dabbs said. “I will advertise by sending out more emails to students reminding them of this resource while putting it in student announcements.”
Dabbs said she thinks students should sign up to create new friendships, and also hopes this program might help bridge the gap between American and international students
“[Most] of the people who signed up to give rides are international students themselves,” Dabbs said. “Part of this is because I didn’t advertise well, but also international students can understand the culture shock of moving to a new country without a vehicle and not having easy access to stores.”
Students interested in participating in Eagle Buddy Rides can email Dabbs.