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RU seeks hosts for international students

Organizers of Radford University's International Friendship Program are asking the campus and Radford communities to open their homes and lives to the university's new international students during the fall 2014 semester.

The program's purpose is to provide a welcoming experience for international students far away from their homes. Participating hosts socialize with the new-to-the-United States students, take area trips, attend local events, celebrate holidays and more.

International students will be matched with volunteers who are willing to welcome their guests into an extended friendship in practical ways. Volunteer hosts and students may choose to extend the friendship each subsequent semester.

Hosts may also offer to help international students with arrangements for housing during university holidays.

The first year in the U.S. for an international student is a critical time of cultural adjustments. Students are often eager to adapt to their new university and the Radford region.

"This is to help the international students be more comfortable," said School of Teacher Education and Leadership (STEL) Professor Betty Dore, who helps organize the program. "If they're comfortable, they'll be successful."

RU's International Friendship Program, under the direction of the university's Faculty Advocating Cultural Exchange and Support (FACES), endeavors to help the students transition into American life and culture, said RU Professor Emeritus Myrl Jones, who along with his wife, Lorene, organizes the IFP.

"The students learn from their hosts about a lot of American customs, and the hosts also learn a lot about the customs of the student's home country," said Jones, who along with Lorene, has been hosting international students since the 1970s. "It has truly enriched our lives."

Lorene Jones stressed that families and individuals alike can serve as hosts.

Families and individuals who are interested in participating in the International Friendship Program should contact the International Education Center. A welcome picnic at Bisset Park is scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m., on Aug. 24.

Aug 5, 2014