The Community Friendship Program is coordinated by a committee of Berea community members. Members of the Center for International Education at Berea College also assist with the matching process.
What is it?
The Community Friendship Program is designed to connect international students with families and individuals in the local community for the sake of cultural exchange. It is an opportunity for community members to extend hospitality and learn about new places, as well as an opportunity for the students to integrate into the Berea community during their time in the U.S.
Who can host a student?
Anyone! Couples, young and old, single, men and women, and families with children are all valued hosts. Matches are made based on preferences and shared interests whenever possible. Busy schedule? Not a problem. Sharing your everyday activities with the student you host can be an enjoyable experience for them. Go to a sports event, enjoy a shopping trip, attend a religious service or civic event together. Even at times when you are very busy, a simple phone call or email from you can be encouraging.
How do I get Involved?
- Have a willing heart!
- Sign up to host a student for the academic school year.
- Allow the CFP committee to match you with a student.
- Meet each other at our annual kick-off celebration and embark on a new endeavor of learning, friendship and fun!
- Consider hosting two students at a time as this can sometimes help with their comfort level, and yours!
At the end of the year, you will have the opportunity to evaluate your experience and continue participating if you so desire.
What does a Host do?
Contact your student by phone, email, or personal note. Keep up communication with the student at least once a month and invite them to your home. Holidays and breaks especially can be meaningful time to spend together as you learn about each other’s traditions. Sharing meals and time with your own household is something a student far from home will appreciate.
What does a Student do?
We emphasize with our students that having a host in the U.S. is a wonderful opportunity! We ask students to stay responsive by returning emails and phone calls and actively participating in events whenever possible. They are encouraged to share their traditions, music, greetings and pictures from home. They are also welcome to invite you to campus to meet their friends, see their dorm room, attend an event or go to food service. Hosts should contact the Community Friendship Program if they have not heard from their student, have concerns, or they themselves are unable to continue participation for some reason.
Host Families are not responsible for:
- Providing housing or transportation (students do not live with hosts),
- Lending money or assisting students in finding jobs,
- Teaching students how to drive,
- Advising students on immigration or academic matters,
- Addressing health or serious adjustment problems.
Questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org