Family Host Program for International Students

Here at The College of Wooster, our students are invited to participate in the Friends of International Students (FIS) Host Family Program. This is a non-residential host family program with the goal of connecting students with local families who will support their experience here in Wooster and to provide an opportunity for cultural exchange. It is run through the International Student Services branch within the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) here at the College, with the help of a number of volunteer coordinators who are active within the Wooster community.

The FIS Host Family Program is introduced to students before they even arrive on campus. ISS provides these incoming students with information about the program, while the International Student Orientation Committee volunteers, many who are part of the program themselves, often speak about their relationships with their host families and the value it has brought to their lives. Students are encouraged to apply for the program prior to arriving on campus to allow for matches to be made and revealed within their first couple of weeks of classes. Host Families are recruited through current family participants of the program and through connections made by ISS staff and the volunteer coordinators with members of the greater Wooster community. Students live here on campus and meet with their host families anywhere from once a week to 3-4 times a year – it all depends on what works for both the student and the family! 

We also offer a few opportunities for the students and families to meet with each other here on campus. The year starts off with our Matching Picnic, where we match the new students with their families and current students and families can formally welcome them as part of the larger group. We also invite families to attend all International Education Week events hosted on campus as a way to engage them in wider internationalization efforts on campus. In the spring semester, we typically offer a Board Game and Desserts Night as a more relaxed event and a formal Spring Dinner toward the end of the semester to honor seniors and host families and to showcase many of the programming efforts that happened on campus throughout the year. 

This is all great, but why is a program like this important? For our students, it provides them with a way to learn more about the area and dig deeper into the U.S. and Ohio-specific culture in ways that don’t always exist here on campus. They often create lasting relationships with their host families that continue long after their time here on campus. Host families also have an opportunity to learn first-hand about a different culture and engage in intercultural dialogues with their students. What better way to encourage cultural exchange than by bringing people together?

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