- What is the purpose of the International Friendship Program?
The goals of the program are to:
- 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.
- Foster an understanding and awareness of cultures different from one’s own
- Build cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills.
- Who are the program coordinators?
Janine Block, Assistant Director of Intercultural Development
email@example.com — (610) 330-5546
Ivan Evtimov ‘17, International Friendship Program (IFP) Student Coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org — (610) 330-4194
- 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.
- Do I live with my friendship partner?
No, you as a student will be living in college housing. You are also eligible to stay there during breaks if unable to go home. Please, visit the website of the Office of Residence Life: http://reslife.lafayette.edu/ for more information on housing or ask your RA.
- What is a student’s length of commitment?
The program formally runs for the first two years of your time at Lafayette. Some students develop such close relationships with their partners that they continue to stay in touch for longer and even after graduation.
- What are the initial steps for participation?
- Look for the application form link in your e-mail or contact one of the program coordinators to obtain it.
- Fill out and submit the application by the specified deadline.
- Attend the student orientation on Friday, September 16th 4:30 pm — 5:00 pm in the Marlo room
- Meet your partner immediately thereafter at the initial meet & greet on Friday, September 16th 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm in the Marlo room.
- How do I make the most out of the relationship with my partner (and their family)?
- Regularly attend the program’s social events.
- Be responsive to your partner’s requests to connect and find some time to get together with their family when invited to do so.
- Share ideas for a campus event outing if you have one and invite your partner and/or their family.
- Do not place exaggerated expectations on your partner, such as continuous requests for transportation, asking for help with a driver’s license test, borrowing money etc.
- Be ready to share about your homeland, culture and family.
- Be excited about learning about American culture!
- 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.
How does the matching process work?
Incoming students whose families live abroad 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, students will be notified of their matches and invited to attend an orientation.
Will I be the only student matched with my partner?
Not necessarily! Many partners are paired with multiple students; some take a couple within the same class year, while others take a new student each year.
- 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.
- I have a special concern about my match or I have a dietary restriction or an allergy. How do I indicate that?
There are special fields on the application form to indicate any concerns about dietary restrictions and allergies. Please, use these accordingly or, if your concern does not match any field, please fill out the last question on the application providing as many details as you feel comfortable with. Please, note that these answers are not generally shared with anyone other than the program coordinators, but certain informations might need to be communicated to the partner in the interest of safety (e.g. dietary restrictions and allergies).
What do current and previous students have to say about their experience?
“My friendship partners supported me through my roommate problem in freshmen year, have been supportive of all my endeavors and have kept me motivated. I believe that it would have been difficult for me to live in this new place without a family because I was so close to mine. In many ways they have become my family away from home. I am really glad to have met them and been included in their family. I am sure I will be in touch with them even after I graduate out of Lafayette.” “His invaluable life advice and particularly wonderful interest in my academic progress has gone a long way to make me want to strive to achieve more academically. The warmth of his presence and his readiness to make me realize that each seemingly contrary lifetime experience could be worked through really strengthens me. I truly feel like I have a family away from home, God bless him. And I wish for him to be recognized for the joy he and his family brings to my life.” “As a great lover of culture and especially music, my friendship partner has come to many concerts at Lafayette and always reminded us of the dates that Orpheus was playing. She also came to support us at the Extravaganza Show in the spring, and the Jazz Combo recital to listen to my singing.” “I will never forget all the dinners in a cozy atmosphere in their house and the spiritual support with which they helped me survive my first year away from home. It also feels good walking into Markle and knowing there’s a familiar face, greeting you with a smile, asking you about your life.”
Read more testimonials and see pictures of past partner and student activities here.