Tags: buddy program, International, saint mary’s, sga, SMC The International Buddy Program at Saint Mary’s College, designed to connect incoming international students with Saint Mary’s students from the United States, kicked off the year Tuesday with its first major event, the International Ice Cream Social in Dalloway’s Clubhouse.The event, sponsored by International Student Services, the Global Studies Department and the Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA), is the first of many to be done by the newly-launched program, which aims to help international students integrate themselves into the Saint Mary’s community, according to Catherine Sullivan, a senior and international co-chair of SGA.“The program connects returning Saint Mary’s students with first-year international students, new English Language School students and new exchange students on a personal level,” Sullivan said. “The students spend time together, study together, help each other get involved on campus and more. The ultimate goal is much more than just having a returning Belle help a new Belle manage campus life; it is to connect two people from two different cultures on a personal level.”The program, which had an application process for returning students, received an overwhelming response. Sullivan said the wide support was both heartwarming and unsurprising.“One of the most unique and beautiful facts about Saint Mary’s is the powerful sense of community that envelopes our entire campus, faculty, staff and students included,” she said. “… All of the young women chosen as international buddies spoke of the outstanding qualities of Saint Mary’s that they are still learning to appreciate.“The reason most of them volunteered in the first place was because of their love for our school and their want to share that love with newcomers, particularly those who may be having a harder time of it.”Sullivan said the International Buddy Program can offer life-changing experiences to both the international and domestic students.“Not only does it give our domestic students the opportunity to learn about a new culture, to nurture a new friendship and to introduce ladies to the home they love so much, but it gives them the opportunity to appreciate and take advantage of the community around them,” she said. “All of the students in this program will be looking for interesting, fun and new opportunities to share with one another.”Grace Kumor, a sophomore in the program, said she wanted the opportunity to learn about fellow students from around the world.“I am really interested in cultures from all around the world, and being able to be firsthand with someone who is from a different country is really interesting to me,” Kumor said.Ruby Truong, a sophomore from Vietnam and International Co-Chair of SGA, said she hopes international students find a second home at Saint Mary’s.“When we international students decided to come to a different country, we wanted to know more about this country,” Truong said. “I feel like I would be very happy if I would have an American mentor like that so that I could know about their cultures that we don’t have in our countries. It’s very good for both international and domestic students because the American students can know about different countries as well.”Any students wanting to be involved in the International Buddy Program can contact Catherine Sullivan at email@example.com or Terra Cowham, assistant director for international student/scholar services and the English Language School, at firstname.lastname@example.org
…regions get supplies with no documentation of costsWhen it comes to oversight over the distribution of medical supplies throughout the 10 administrative regions, the Audit Office of Guyana (AOG) faced major hurdles in verifying that the value of drugs sent to the various regions corresponded with Inter Department Warrants (IDW’s).Auditor General Deodat Sharma A total of $2.1 billion was budgeted for procuring drugs and medical supplies under the Health Services Programme. According to Auditor General Deodat Sharma in his 2017 report, 14 IDWs or requests for drugs, were sent to the Public Health Ministry by the regions to procure drugs and medical supplies. The total value of these warrants was $1.7 billion.Drugs and medical supplies were indeed received by the regions. Where things went wrong, according to the Auditor General, was the fact that there was no documentation accompanying the medical supplies received, indicating the value of the units. As a consequence, the Auditor General noted that he was unable to account for the cost of medical supplies received by the 10 administrative regions.“The difference of $42 million was retained in the Consolidated Fund, which included 51 per cent of the warranted amounts for Region Seven and 46 per cent for Region Eight. In addition, the Ministry issued financial returns indicating that it expended the full amounts from seven of the 10 regions, which includes Regions Two, Three and Nine,” the Auditor General report stated.“However, shown in the Appropriation Accounts were three cheques totalling $144 million that were refunded to the Consolidated Fund in January and March 2018, for Regions Two, Three and Nine.”Lack of accountability when regions use Inter Department Warrants to acquire drugs is a sore issue for the Auditor General, who has to unearth these cases and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has to interrogate officials. In April of this year, the inability of Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) officials to answer PAC questions regarding drug procurement issues caused them to ultimately be asked to leave the chambers.At the sitting chaired by Member of Parliament Pauline Sukhai, in the absence of Chairman Irfaan Ali, Regional Executive Officer (REO) Kerwin Warde was questioned on the region’s procurement of drugs through IDWs.At the time, Warde could not provide definitive details on the reconciliation from the Materials Management Unit of the Public Health Ministry, as recommended by Auditor General Sharma in his previous year’s report.“Although drugs and medical supplies were received by the Regional Administration, the cost was not stated on the documentation that accompanied the deliveries”, the report had detailed.“As a result, it could not be determined whether the full value was received for the sum warranted to the Public Health Ministry. With respect to the warrant of $10 million, the regional administration received a ‘nil’ financial return indicating that the amount was unexpended; as such, the Appropriation Account was credited with the unspent amount of $10 million.”The Audit Office had recommended that the regional administration put systems in place to reconcile supplies received by the respective health facilities with the drugs’ list initially submitted.It had also advised that the region obtain the cost of the drugs and medical supplies from the Public Health Ministry so as to reconcile the value of the drugs and medical supplies received with that of the sum warranted to the Ministry. This time around, the 2017 report quotes the budget agency as saying that efforts are being made to reconcile the amounts.