Host, Friendship Families Sought for International Students

When Augustana alumni Bryan and Becca Conner, class of 2005, heard about the opportunity to host an international student last summer, they jumped at the chance.

"As alumni, we were interested in getting involved with Augustana. We have always enjoyed learning about different cultures. When the opportunity to help out presented itself on Facebook, we considered the benefits of reaching out to an international student. Being able to provide a 'home' off campus was appealing to us," said Becca Conner.

The Conners served as a host family for Jhon Ramirez Arias, a junior Communications major from Costa Rica.

Later this summer, Sioux Falls-area families will again have the opportunity to learn about other cultures, languages and traditions as Augustana prepares to welcome international students from around the globe for the fall semester. The College is seeking area families to support its Host Family and/or Friendship Family Programs, welcome initiatives designed to provide a support network for these students.

Being a host family, Becca Conner said, was a rewarding experience.

Learn More

Host families are needed beginning Saturday, Aug. 11. Learn more about being a Host Family and/or a Friendship Family. Contact the International Programs Office (IPO) or call 605.274.5050.

"He wanted to experience life in the U.S. and learn about our culture. We cooked him 'American' food and he cooked us Costa Rican cuisine. We did some activities that were common for us including birthday parties, holiday celebrations, navigating the corn maze, the symphony, and movies. He was able to get a glimpse of how we spend our time. We learned we are very similar people despite our difference in cultures."

It was also a chance to provide support for a young person.

"Initially, before [he] made friends on campus and before he learned about campus activities, he was feeling a little homesick. We were able to show him around and give him some sense of what Sioux Falls was like. He started partcipating in campus activities and became aquainted with many students that way. We attended some campus activities together. He had our cell phone and e-mail address and knew we were there for him if he needed some company," Becca said.   

Host Family Program
On Saturday, Aug. 11, eight new students from Pakistan, Belarus,Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan will be arriving in Sioux Falls, several weeks prior to the start of the school year. These students are participants of the highly selective U.S. State Department Global UGRAD Program, a full-time, non-degree program that combines study with community service, internship and cultural enrichment elements. Augustana would like to pair each UGRAD student with a host family willing to provide room and board; transportation to the college Monday-Friday (The IPO will provide orientation and cultural programming each day, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.); and family and cultural activities during the evening and weekends from Aug. 11-24. The UGRAD students will move into their on-campus residence halls Friday, Aug. 24. Host Families and students can choose to continue their relationship through the Friendship Family Program (description below).

Friendship Family Program
The Friendship Family Program is designed to give a new student a family contact in Sioux Falls. The family does not provide lodging. Instead, the family makes a commitment to befriend a new student and to provide opportunities to have a home-cooked meal once or twice a month or to participate in various cultural or community activities throughout the year. The IPO is seeking 50 area families to participate in the Friendship Family Program, providing support to students from various countries around the world during the 2012-13 academic year.

To learn more about these programs and to request application forms, email the International Programs Office or call 605.274.5050.