Friendship Family Program

Friendship Family Program


Apply by Friday, March 1st for the pilot program!

The Friendship Family Program is a non-residential friendship program. Our goal is to introduce international students to a local family who will befriend them, connect them to the local community, support their experience at Marshall, and enjoy the opportunity for cultural exchange.

Introduction: The Friendship Family Program is designed to foster cross-cultural connections and promote understanding between international students and local families. The program aims to create a supportive and welcoming environment for international students while providing local families with the opportunity to engage in cultural exchange. By matching international students with local families, the program seeks to facilitate meaningful connections, enhance cultural awareness, and create lasting friendships.

Program Structure:

1. Application and Matching Process:
  • Friendship families for Spring 2024 will only be Marshall faculty and staff.
  • International students and friendship families interested in participating in the program can submit applications expressing their interest.
  • A careful matching process is undertaken to pair students with families based on shared interests, values, and cultural compatibility.
2. Orientation and Welcome Session:
  • Prior to the start of the program, both international students and friendship families attend an orientation session to learn about program expectations, cultural sensitivity, and communication tips.
  • An informal welcome event will be organized to introduce the matched pairs and break the ice.
3. Monthly Meet-ups:
  • Participants commit to meeting at least once a month for various activities, such as shared meals, cultural outings, or other mutually agreed-upon events.
  • The monthly meet-ups provide a relaxed and informal setting for participants to share their cultures, exchange experiences, and build lasting friendships.
  • These monthly meet-ups can take place on campus or off campus at the discretion of the friendship family and the student.
  • We encourage Friendship Families to introduce international students to American holidays, such as Easter egg hunts, Halloween pumpkin carving or painting, Winter Holiday activities, etc.
4. Cultural Exchange Events:
  • Throughout the program, Intercultural Student Office, Office of International Student Services, and Global Education will plan cultural events to provide a platform for broader interaction among all participants.
  • These events may include themed potlucks, cultural celebrations, or outings to local cultural landmarks, allowing both international students and friendship families to learn from each other in a fun and dynamic way.
5. Check-ins and Support:
  • Program coordinators regularly check in with participants to ensure that the matches are progressing well and to address any concerns or questions.
  • A support system is in place to assist both international students and friendship families in navigating cultural differences and fostering a positive and inclusive atmosphere.

Benefits of the Friendship Family Program:

1. Cultural Understanding:
  • Participants gain a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures, traditions, and customs, breaking down stereotypes and fostering mutual respect.
2. Language Development:
  • International students have the opportunity to practice and improve their English language skills in a supportive and natural setting.
3. Networking and Community Integration:
  • Participants gain a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures, traditions, and customs, breaking down stereotypes and fostering mutual respect.
4. Long-lasting Friendships:
  • The program aims to build meaningful, long-lasting friendships that extend beyond the duration of the international students’ stay, creating a global network of connected individuals.

The Friendship Family Program strives to create a world where cultural exchange is not just an opportunity but a way of life, enriching the lives of both international students and friendship families through the power of friendship and understanding.

What is NOT expected of friendship families?

  • Families are not expected to spend money on their students but can do so if they choose.
  • Families are not expected to provide housing for their students.
  • Families are not expected to provide frequent transportation. Many families are happy to occasionally help out with transportation; this is not the purpose of the program, but a friendly and helpful gesture.

What is expected of students?

  • Students are expected to communicate with their friendship family. This includes returning phone calls, text messages, and emails. In U.S. culture, it is more acceptable to decline an invitation than to not respond at all.
  • Students should be mindful that friendship families are invested in the program and have dedicated time and energy to getting to know them.
  • Students should keep in mind that this is a volunteer program. Friendship families are not reimbursed for any expenses that may be incurred, and it is appropriate to thank families for their generosity and kindness.

What if I have concerns or the family relationship is not working out?

If students or families ever have concerns about the relationship, or it is just not working out, please contact us:

Ready to Apply?
Families: Apply here
Students: Apply here

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