UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
The International Friendship Program (IFP) supports new international students during their transition to campus by pairing them with a member of the River Falls community and surrounding area. The program promotes cross-cultural understanding by providing participants with the opportunity to share in a variety of social and cultural activities.
The IFP is flexible based on the time you have available, and the level of involvement you are interested in. You could...
Be yourself, students are interested in learning about your cultural and living backgrounds!
US participants are not required to provide home stays, but many international students do not have their own vehicles so families often provide transportation to and from joint activites.
Additionally, IFP partners should not...
Staff at International Student Services handle these issues. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have always thought it would be fun to host an international student, but with 3 actively involved children, two full time jobs and a part time job, my husband and I do not have the time needed to host a student in our home. The IFP allowed our family an opportunity to share our lives and interests with an international student with less of a time commitment.
We were partnered with Li, a young male student from China. During our time with him, we took Li to some of our favorite restaurants and introduced him to some of our favorite foods. We also invited him to join us at some of our children's activities, including a gymnastics meet and a soccer match. He had grown up playing soccer, so he shared this interest with my son. Li even helped out at one of my son's soccer practices. Li ordered some of his favorite Chinese snacks and shared them with us. He shared photographs of his family and pictures from China. This was a wonderful learning opportunity for our entire family.
I would strongly encourage anyone to participate in the IFP, especially if you have an interest in sharing your life with an international student, but lead a busy life like my family does.
My wife and I love to cook, and so did one of our students last year. One Saturday we went shopping at an Asian market and she taught us how to make some of her favorite dishes from home. We then had the chance to teach her how to make some traditional American dishes, like hamburgers from scratch.
I am always impressed with how willing the students are to get out of their comfort zones and try new things. One of our girls this year was terribly afraid of cats, but by the end of her stay she had become one of our cat's favorite people. They are also willing to jump in on any of our interests. This year, the girls made some ceramic sculptures for their families that they took home with them when they went.
Finally we always like to have them invite their friends and go snow tubing in Hudson. Most of them had never been in a snow storm, or even seen that much snow on the ground. After tubing, one student said that she had never had so much fun outside before in her life...
So much fun and good memories. We also still keep in touch with most of our students on Wechat which makes communicating and sharing pictures super easy between China and the US.
Being part of the International Friendship Program has been a blast! My family has learned about other cultures, eaten foods from around the world, and has had so much fun sharing our lives with our international friends. These young people are so eager to learn about our culture and love just doing the everyday things with us - preparing a meal, celebrating holidays, going biking, going to church, going to university events like football or basketball, or just hanging out at the house and playing board games. I hope we have made a difference in their lives; I know they have made a difference in our lives. We have made life-long friends.