Partner FAQs

  1. What is the purpose of the International Friendship Program?

    The goals of the program are to:

    1. Provide an additional source of support and sense of community for 1st and 2nd year international students as they acclimate to living & studying in the U.S.
    2. Foster an understanding and awareness of cultures different from one’s own.
    3. Build cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills.
  2. Who are the program coordinators?

    Janine Block, Assistant Director of Intercultural Development — (610) 330-5546
    Ivan Evtimov ‘17, International Friendship Program (IFP) Student Coordinator — (610) 330-4194

  3. Who participates in the International Friendship Program?

    Families and individuals working at Lafayette, local alumni and members of the surrounding community/College Hill who have a sincere interest in cultural exchange, learning about other cultures, and sharing American culture.
  4. Is lodging required of friendship partners?

    No, students live in college housing and are eligible to stay there during breaks if they are unable to go home. If partners wish to invite their student(s) to stay during a holiday/break they are welcome to do so.

  5. What is a friendship partner’s length of commitment?

    Friendship partners are asked to remain committed for the first two years of a student’s time at Lafayette. Some partners develop such close relationships with their student(s) that they continue to stay in touch for longer and even after graduation.

  6. What are the initial steps for participation?

    1. Look for the application form link in your e-mail or contact the program coordinators to obtain it.
    2. Once assigned a student, attend one of the partner orientations on Thursday, September 1st 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm or 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm Both sessions will be held in Farinon Student Center. Janine and Ivan will meet partners attending the orientation in the atrium and show them to the meeting room. A meal will be provided. Off-campus community partners should refer to the e-mail acknowledging their application for instructions on how to find the building.
    3. Meet your student(s) at the initial meet & greet on Friday, September 16th 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm in the Marlo room on the second floor of the Farinon Student Center (the grey building on the Quad).

  7. What is required to be a good friendship partner?

    • Regularly attend the program’s social events.
    • Touch base with your student(s) every few weeks in person or via email/phone.
    • Include your student(s) in both formal and informal family events, especially at holidays (or around the holidays if traveling) and during school breaks.
    • Provide occasional assistance with transportation if school transportation is not available.
    • Invite your student(s) to meet on campus, visit your home, or go somewhere off campus together at least twice a semester.
    • Encourage your student(s) to share about his/her homeland and family.
    • Support your student(s) and the International Students Association by participating in key events sponsored by the organization each year.
    • Be excited about sharing your culture and learning about others’ home countries!

  8. What kind of events and activities are there?

    Early in the fall semester, a kick-off event is held for new pairs to meet one another. Additional group activities open to all participants are offered throughout the year. Examples might include a game night, trip to a local place of interest, holiday themed “Meet & Greets” or a movie screening.
    More important, however, are the personal opportunities pairs create for themselves. Friendship partners can invite students to their homes for dinner, include them in a holiday celebration, take them to a baseball game or simply grab coffee over a quick chat. The possibilities are endless and arranged as schedules permit.

  9. How does the matching process work?

    Incoming students are given information about the program and invited to participate before they arrive on campus. They fill out a questionnaire with information used by the program coordinators, to determine which partners might be the best match for them. Likewise, partners are asked to provide similar information. Prior to the kick-off, partners will be notified of their matches and invited to attend an orientation (primarily for 1st time participants).

  10. May a friendship partner request more than one student?

    Yes! Many partners are paired with multiple students; some take a couple within the same class year, while others take a new student each year. Partners may find that the students enjoy attending family gatherings with a “Lafayette sibling”, especially if the student is shy initially or concerned with his/her ability to communicate.

  11. What happens if the relationship does not prove to be mutually satisfactory?

    Either party should approach the program director, to discuss any issues/concerns about the match. The program director will work with the partner and student to resolve the situation if possible. Many factors are considered when matching partners and students and usually these pairs become very close. However, there are times when the relationship does not develop as hoped and the match is dissolved. Students are not reassigned unless the student asks.

  12. What do current and previous friendship partners have to say about their experience?

    “By helping an international student, I can help make their experience in the U.S. richer and give them a greater understanding of what we are about beyond what they may know by way of the internet and TV. My students have become part of my family. We learn from each other. I look forward to our jaunts to Purple Cow, local diners, the farmers market, retail therapy, and an unexpected pop in at my office. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this program. I look forward to having a new student become part of {our} fold in the fall.”
    “It’s been wonderful interacting with our student. She is a remarkably bright, energetic, and independent student who… seizes all the opportunities available at Lafayette.”
    “This has been a special experience for us. We love Vietnamese food! Our student has enjoyed staying with us during breaks and cooking spring rolls and making Vietnamese Pho soup. She’s definitely been “Americanized” by her contact with us. We took her to her first 3-D movie. We’ve learned from her that the family unit is strong and the roles are more traditional where she’s from. We’re so glad we took this opportunity to host an international student. She will be a friend for life and we love her vivacious personality.”

    Click here to read further testimonials from the program and see some pictures of previous friendship partners and students.