International Friendship Program (IFP)
The International Friendship Program (IFP) provides international students with opportunities to experience American family life and introduces families to global cultures and traditions. Friendship families provide companionship and support to students who are far from home; have an interest in removing barriers to international understanding; show human understanding and acceptance of attitudes and customs that are different from their own; and demonstrate an interest in and curiosity and excitement about other cultures.
Like most students, international students are excited about their new experiences, but they are unsure of what to expect. They must adapt to new physical, cultural and academic environments, and many must learn to think and speak in a new language. These students are more likely to succeed if they receive support--warm human support That's where the Friendship Family comes in.
What are Friendship Families like?
Some families are traditional "nuclear" families, with husband, wife, and kids. But many IFP "families" are single parents with kids, empty nesters, single professional people, or retirees. What matters most is their willingness to befriend with an international student and spend good times together.
Do international students live with their IFP families?
No, IFP families do not provide housing for students. While they are at UWSP, international students (like all other students) make their own housing arrangements, either in a residence hall or off-campus housing.
How much time do students and families commit to the program?
It varies. You can be flexible and choose what works best for both. Initially, we suggest two meetings a month. As the year progresses and students get busier, you may meet only once a month. Whatever the schedule, it is important that both the family and the student be comfortable with it.
What activities can IFP families and students participate in?
The possibilities for enjoying activities together are endless. You'll discover mutual interests as you get to know one another. Some families and students find that the most enjoyable activities are the simple ones: picnics or other outings, tours of the area, and get-togethers with other friendship families.
Some activities planned by the International Friendship Program include:
- Fall welcome picnic for international students and host families
- Portage County Cultural Festival
- International Dinner
- Winter Fun Night
How can I be part of this program?
For more information about how to get involved with this program, please contact:
"The time committed to this program is indeed well spent. Barriers are overcome, and many lasting friendships are formed. Sometimes a seemingly small gesture can mean more than we imagine. The kinds of relationships we develop with other people may, in the long run, determine the kind of world in which we live."