This fall, the international affairs office at the University of Missouri-Rolla is again sponsoring the International Friends Program to help match international students with individuals and families in the community.
Through this program, members of the community can befriend international students, sharing cultures through participation in fun activities and discussions. Sponsors are not expected to assist the students financially or provide housing.
There is no charge to participate in the International Friends Program. Prospective participants are asked to fill out a questionnaire which will help pair community members and international students. Questionnaires should be completed by Friday, Sept. 9.
International students will be paired with community friends during a reception at UMR on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
“We are not only friends in this program, but more like a family, a big family,” says UMR student Feng Liu, former president of UMR’s Chinese Student and Scholar Association. “Host families help us overcome all kinds of problems, especially with language. Most students really improve their English after finding a host family.”
Host families and mentors can help the international students by offering advice and assistance in everything from taking a drivers’ test to shopping in American malls. “Participants in the International Friends Program generally visit once a month in local homes or at special community functions, but the level of commitment is left to the individual,” says Roberta Morgan, program coordinator.
In many cases, lifelong friendships result from the program. “In April 2004, our international student from 2001 called to tell us he was getting married,” says Wendy Gorkow, community volunteer. “We were invited to the wedding at his hometown in India. We spent three weeks there, and were treated as family members in the three-day Hindu wedding ceremony.”
For more information on the program, contact UMR international affairs at (573) 341-6703, or email Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.