‘CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS TOGETHER’: FRIENDSHIP FAMILIES HOST INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

LURA AJDINI, STAFF WRITER

“My friendship family is very friendly,” Sonam Gurme, a third-year Wartburg student from India, said. “They introduced me to the Indian community in Waverly and now they invite us to celebrate holidays together.”

The Friendship Family Program, a program designed to aid in the acclimation and fosters a feeling of community for international students at Wartburg College. International students are paired with Friendship Families to host in private homes for holidays and to spend time together.

The organization held two potlucks, one in each term, to connect international students with friendship families. Families are asked to host at least four activities per term with their international students to help create a stronger bond.

“At the time I took over the program in 2013, I was also a friendship family of two students from Nigeria,” Wendy Mohlis, International Friendship Family coordinator, said. “My family loved being a part of the program and we still keep in touch with these two students today, as well as a student from Japan.”

Creating a strong bond with Friendship Families is a way for international students to interact, learn and adapt within a different culture, but also to share cultural values with the families.

Homesickness is a major issue that international students cope with, however, Friendship Families work to help students feel closer to home. Some activities include going out to dinner, holiday gatherings and exchanging information regarding health care and other recommendations for living in the U.S.

“Sometimes you miss your home and they’re giving you the opportunity to connect with a family here,” Gurmet said. “It’s also that you experience more indepth of what’s in the American culture.” For more information about the Friendship Families program, contact mohlis at wendy.mohlis@ wartburg.edu.

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