Stevens Point residents Kathy Lepinski and Chuck Mocadlo consider University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate Cherie Ying Fu a member of their family.
The couple was matched with the Chinese student four years ago through the International Friendship Program at UW-Stevens Point, which pairs local families and international students. Like most students, the international students are excited about new experiences, but are unsure what to expect at college. The friendship program helps these students adapt to new physical, cultural and academic surroundings.
The International Students and Scholars Office invites local families and individuals to consider becoming an international friend. It involves getting together once or twice a month, spending time on activities that interest both the American and international friend. Possibilities include family meals, local sightseeing, canoeing, camping, pumpkin carving, attending concerts or plays, sledding, snowmobiling and spending holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas together. Local families do not provide housing for students.
Lepinski and Mocadlo helped Fu become familiar with her new surroundings, took her shopping and enjoyed holiday activities together. They also attended cultural activities at the university, such as Chinese New Year celebrations and the annual International Dinner. Some activities are planned by the International Friendship Program, including a fall welcome picnic.
“We’ve enjoyed learning Chinese culture and it’s been a great help to Cherie as well,” said Lepinski. “After four years, she’s part of our family. We also got to meet her family at her graduation.”
The couple, who have also hosted Japanese students through the Dokkyo English as a second language summer program, will be matched with another international student this fall, and encourage others to as well.
Local families do not provide housing for students.
To learn more about the program for the upcoming school year, contact Marcia Mace in the International Students and Scholars Office at 715-346-4906 or firstname.lastname@example.org.