The Big Idea 2014: Study abroad care packages

Robert Flynn
New Media Coordinator
Boston University, Boston

About two years ago, a Boston University (BU) student who was studying abroad tweeted that she missed the cookies from one of our dining halls. Since I oversee the social media for Boston University dining services, and we’re very active on Twitter, I saw the tweet and thought it was great that they missed us and how cool it would be if I could surprise them with those cookies. So I found out the student’s address overseas and put a package together of the cookies and a few other items, and that’s how this care package program started.

BU students study in about 30 cities in the U.S. and around the world. Some live with private families, while others live in a dorm setting with other students. At this point, we send about one or two packages per semester to students who mention us, or I’ll choose a student at random. If  students tweeted a specific item that they miss, I’ll include it and usually I’ll get them a jar of Marshmallow Fluff and some peanut butter or Nutella and maybe some candies, the Boston paper from that day and then a nice card saying “We miss you” signed by staff. It really brightens the students’ day when they get the package.

There are so many students at BU, but we work to create a community here, especially with the students studying abroad thousands of miles away from their friends and family. Whatever we can do for the students is what it comes down to. Once or twice a semester, it’s a package abroad, but on a daily basis, we’re interacting with our students, and social media makes it easier for us to do that.

The study abroad care packages are not a formal program. We plan to con-tinue reaching out to students in this way and have started a discussion with our study abroad program to do something similar on a larger scale in order to reach more students and build on the idea. 

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