International Friends & Community Host Family Program
International Friendship and Community Host Family Programs at universities have demonstrated the many benefits of matching American families and international students in order to establish rich, long-lasting cross-cultural friendships. Our program is intended to promote and facilitate friendship and cultural exchange as an extension of the DSU mission to provide every student with an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment, with caring people. At the forefront of this effort will be a focus on mutual respect, open-mindedness, and care, so we ask both community and international participants to keep this in mind as they embark upon what we believe will be fulfilling, life-long relationships.
The Dixie State University International Friends and Community Host Family Program is an exciting initiative to bring St. George community members together with international students from all over the world. It is meant to provide students with a foundation of cross-cultural fellowship that will enhance their learning experience in unique and fulfilling ways.
The program is also an opportunity for you and your family to be a part of an international student’s experience here in St. George. By opening your home and heart to some of our amazing students, you will make lifelong friendships, learn about other cultures, and enhance the cultural education of a student who is far from home.
What are the Duties of an International Friend?
- Contact your international friend within the first week of being matched (After that first contact, it does not need to be initiated by the community member, but as a member of the host culture it is important to take the initiative as the friendship begins.)
- Initiate a first meeting on campus, and coordinate with the International Student Life Coordinator so that introductions can be made.
- Maintain contact with your international friend, and expect to get together at least 2 or 3 times per semester. More frequent meetings are encouraged if both parties are interested.
- Commit to keeping an open mind about your international friend’s culture, language ability and time.
- Provide transportation from campus to activities and/or to your home and back if student does not have a car.
- Provide occasional in-home meals. Students really appreciate a home-cooked meal after eating on campus for a few weeks! If you take the student to a restaurant, you are not expected to pay for the student’s meal — he or she will most likely have money to pay for this and other incidental expenses. However, it is fine for you to offer to buy a meal for the student if you like.
- If you and the student share religious interests, offer to take him or her to visit at your place of worship.
- Attend DSU events with your student. Volunteers can often get free tickets to games or events.
- If the student is an athlete, a performer, or participates in other DSU activities, support him or her by coming to watch! Remember, parents of these students typically cannot travel so far to see their children play ball or act in a play, and students love knowing that someone is out there rooting for them.
- Just “be there” for the student, who may sometimes need a sympathetic ear or someone to provide guidance or advice. Students who are so far from home need to know that there is someone “in their corner,” and International Friends can fill that need.
What are the Duties of a Community Host Family?
Imagine what it’s like to be the only student living in your dorm over Winter Break. No restaurants on campus are open, only a handful of students are still there, and there’s not a lot to do. If you don’t have a car, you’re stuck eating takeout or whatever can be prepared in a microwave, sometimes for several weeks! Some of our international students cannot travel home for every break, and some will not go home at all during their four years at DSU. Providing them with a short-term stay gives them the chance to learn about living in an American home, and the experience is invaluable for both the student and the host family.
Host families provide a place for students to stay over breaks such as Thanksgiving, Easter, Fall/Spring Breaks, and even the Winter break. The dates of those breaks for the 2018/19 year are:
|Fall Break||October 11 – 14, 2018|
|Thanksgiving||November 22 – 25, 2018|
|Winter Break||December 15, 2018 – January 6, 2019|
|Spring Break||March 9 – 13, 2019|
|Easter Holiday||April 29, 2019|
Below are some common questions that many have when considering the program:
The program is open to any international or domestic person or family living in the St. George, Santa Clara, Ivins, Washington, or Hurricane community, who is passionate about enhancing the cultural education of an international student. Participants include a diverse range of ages, cultural backgrounds, religious affiliations, and ethnicities.
Who are the International Students at DSU?
There are over 35 countries represented at Dixie State University! The top 3 most represented countries are: Nigeria, China, with Japan and Rwanda tied for third place. There will be more than 150 international students enrolled at the beginning of the 2018/19 academic year, and DSU is excited to embrace the cultural diversity that these students bring to our campus!
How Do I Sign Up?
Internationals and US American friends must go through the same application process, by completing an application and submitting it to the International Student Services Office. Community members may make a special request for an international friend from a specific country; however, an important part of the program is open-mindedness and flexibility, so a willingness to engage with people from all over the world is desirable. Also, keep in mind that matching depends on who decides to sign up for the program; and the more specific a request is, the more difficult it will be to find a match. Matching is done throughout the year and is based on hobbies, special interests and activities that participants have in common. Please note that a match isn’t necessarily final – if for some reason a match doesn’t work out, participants can be re-assigned.
- Submit your Application.
- Once your application has been reviewed, your references will be contacted via phone or email.
Those whose applications are approved will be matched with students who indicate that they would like to participate in the program.
**A family may choose to be both International Friends AND a Host Family; however, one may elect to do one or the other without committing to both.
Our International Students are searching for opportunities to make new friendships throughout the St. George area, to learn more about our culture here in Utah, and to share their culture with their new friends. We hope that you will consider sharing your home, your family, and yourself with a student during the 2018/19 academic year!