Office of International Student Services provides chance to befriend an international student

09/20/12 ema

HAYS, Kan. -- Meeting people from other parts of the world, learning about different cultures, teaching others about life in the United States and gaining new friends are all benefits of Fort Hays State University's Friendship Family program.

"During the 2011-2012 year, we matched 30 families with 79 students while we were unable to find families for many more," said Marnie Kohl of the International Student Services Office. "Once again, we have a record number of new students with over 155 international students. Because of this increase, we are looking for more families and individuals to get involved."

Families in the program must be a family to one or more FHSU international students for at least one year and contact their student once a month to see how they are doing. Families should include students in some of their activities and answer questions about American life and culture. Participants must actively support and participate in the social activities planned for members and students.

Individuals, students, married couples and families are all encouraged to become Friendship Family program friends. Community members of all ages can participate.

Rewards of participating in the program include helping students living far from home adjust to life in a new country and meeting other community members with similar interests.

Responsibilities do not include housing, legal matters, serious health and emotional problems, immigration, and other governmental obligations.

"I would highly recommend getting involved with the program. We've had a great experience with our students and it was not a large time commitment," said Dr. Tisa Mason, vice president for student affairs. "Sharing our customs and experiencing the students' curiosity and joy deepened and enriched our appreciation for our family's heritage."

"The program will be far more beneficial for yourself rather than the students," said Brad Botz, director of gift planning and corporate secretary for the FHSU Foundation. "They are great young adults willing to learn and participate in any activity you can provide. My wife and I enjoyed sharing the different holiday seasons with them."

"Words cannot describe the expressions on their faces when we had them answer our front door on Halloween night," said Botz. "Do yourself a favor and get involved."

Mason, 785-628-4277, and Botz, 785-628-5888, can help with questions about their personal experience and involvement with the program.

Applications can be picked up at the Student Affairs office in Sheridan Hall, room 208, or from the website at

For more information, contact the Office of International Student Services at 785-628-4276 or visit and click on the programs tab.

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