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Would you like to make friends from around the world without leaving home? Are you an international student who is interested in developing relationships with American families?
The International Friends program, sponsored by the Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Office of International and Cultural Affairs, allows community volunteers and international students an opportunity to develop lasting relationships and learn about one another’s culture.
How does the program work?
The Office of International and Cultural Affairs gathers information from people in the community willing to serve as community friends as well as Missouri S&T international students who would like to be a part of the program. Matches are made depending on requests and information provided on questionnaires.
A reception will be held to introduce students to their prospective community friends. The first reception will take place on October 30, 2014 from 6:00-8:00 PM.
What activities do community friends engage in to befriend students?
Here are some ideas:
- Let your student know that you are available, within reason, if he or she has a problem.
- Telephone the student occasionally to learn how he or she is getting along.
- Talk with your student about any house rules regarding your household.
- Understand any cultural obligations that the student has.
- Share everyday and special family experiences.
- Take the student to special places and events in the community.
- Invite the student for a meal occasionally.
- Help the student cook a meal from his or her own country.
- Help with shopping, including “bargain hunting."
- Provide tips about handling hot or cold weather.
What is the time commitment?
As much time as the community friend or student has available – every week, once a month or every other month. Students share that they get the most out of their experience when they spend at least two hours a month with their friend.
How long is the commitment?
Again, this is the community friend’s option. Most families maintain the relationships while the student remains at Missouri S&T, while some wish to retain the relationships for a specific period.
What is the cost?
There is no cost associated with being involved in the program. Community friends do not “host" students as far as providing housing or any type of financial assistance. There is also no cost to the student as community friends are all volunteers.
What are the benefits for community friends and internationals?
New friendships which can last a lifetime are developed.
English language skills for international students are enhanced.
Students and friends alike gain a new level of understanding about one another’s culture as well as about themselves and their own country.
What do participants say about the program?
Liu Feng , Chinese student: “As visiting Chinese students, we face many difficulties when we are studying in the United States …You always help us overcome all kinds of problems, especially the language. Most Chinese students improve their English after finding a friend in the community. We greatly appreciate your help, and we are pleased to be friends with you."
Wendy Gorkow , community friend since 1999: “The International Friends program seemed to be a good way to explore other cultures and meet new people without leaving home. It can be whatever you and your match wish it to be – someone to help navigate the waters of a strange culture or possibly a lifelong friendship."
Where can I get more information?
For more information, please contact Richard Myers at (573) 341-4335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.