FFIS Host Families Share Their Thoughts About Hosting a University of Oregon International Student

Joy & Susie with Susie's Parents

The FFIS Homestay Program matches international students with local community volunteers for a short-term homestay when the student first arrives in Lane County. Volunteers open their hearts and home to young adults far from home, helping them to get oriented and settled. The friendships built during that brief period often last well beyond when the student has returned to their native country. Homestay families have created many fond memories for the students that they’ve hosted.

FFIS host families hosted 95 incoming international students prior to the start of the fall term.  This is what some of the host families had to say about their experience hosting an incoming international student:

What was the most rewarding part of hosting?

 Getting to know these two incredible young women. Hearing about their lives at home and their plans for their futures. We also love their excitement and their joy about being in Eugene and about to start their studies at the U of O. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

 Shota was excellent and was very easy to have in the house. It is always enjoyable being the landing place for students when they are first arriving.

 Meeting new people and sharing cultures and food.

 Meeting people from all over the world, making new friends, learning their culture, but most of all blessing them by easing their tensions and anxieties of starting school in a new country and school.

 Making new friends.

Greeting at the Airport

Learning new perspectives, from the lens of another country. Meeting young people from other countries. Learning about other cultures.

 Getting to know this remarkable young woman from Uzbekistan and admiring her intelligence, maturity and sense of humor. She taught us so much about the history of the Silk Road, the Mongols and Genghis Khan. We enjoy learning about other cultures and maintaining relationships with the students while they’re in Eugene and beyond. We also love having them share their cuisine with us.

 Learning about other cultures.

 Learning about new cultures and countries and how they do things.

Getting to know this wonderful woman from France and spending time with her, hiking, showing her around Eugene and getting her set up at the U of O.

 We always love meeting people from other countries and cultures.

Bike Riding with Katherin from Peru for Post

 The opportunity to learn about the student & their culture.

Our student was very sweet and appreciative of our help and hospitality. She enjoyed shopping and chose her purchases very carefully. Since I like shopping, this was an activity we could share.

 Our student is so nice!

 The whole experience was a delight.

 Knowing that I helped someone.

 Getting acquainted with each student and learning about their life, home, and culture.

 There are usually more students wanting a homestay experience than there are available host families. FFIS provides short-term homestay experiences for the fall, winter, and spring terms. If you’re not yet a volunteer, but are interested in learning more about the program, read the FAQ page or e-mail FFIS@UOregon.edu.

Suzanne & Bill Dassenko

Les and Marian Brod Share Their Experience With The FFIS Conversation Friend Program

Les Brod & Marcia

Les and Marian Brod have been FFIS Conversation Friend volunteers for many years.  In this post they share recent experiences with their Conversation Friend from China:

Yunhong Bai, or Marcia as she liked to be called in English, came to the UO as a “courtesy professor” from a university in Beijing. Her purpose here was to learn how to teach English more effectively and to improve her own language skills, which were already quite good upon arrival. As a retired teacher of English, I quickly discovered we had much in common, but our conversations were not limited to teaching. For example, we discussed culture, politics, daily life, foods, wine and my weak Chinese language ability, among many other topics. 

During Marcia’s stay my wife, Marian, and I invited her and another visiting Chinese professor, Shirley, to our house where we all participated in making “baozi,” a type of filled dumpling common in Chinese cuisines.  The water boiled, the flour flew, and the roller flattened. 

Meanwhile we scooped filling, pinched baozi closed, and flung them into the pot of boiling water. We had a nice dusting of flour in the kitchen, but the results were great. During another meeting, we took Marcia to a winery for her first wine tasting experience; she enjoyed it immensely and now knows about Oregon Pinot Noir.

I would strongly encourage anyone who is a bit adventurous and wants an up-close and personal experience with people from other cultures to consider an FFIS conversation partner. It provides you with new insights, keeps your brain from gathering cobwebs and provides students and scholars from other countries the opportunity to get acquainted with real Americans–not just the ones they read about in their news headlines.

Interested in becoming an FFIS Conversation Friend if you’re not already?  Read “A Conversation About the Conversation Friend Program” and then contact Conversation Friend Coordinator Craig Biersdorff at 541-517-7652 or FFIS.ConversationFriends@gmail.com.

FFIS News for October 2018

Greeting at the Airport

A new University of Oregon school year has begun and FFIS has been active in welcoming new international students and scholars to our community through our short-term homestay program and Welcome Picnic.  We’d like to share some information about what’s been happening and remind you about our upcoming fundraiser at Fisherman’s Market on Monday, Oct. 8.

Fall Homestay Program – FFIS volunteers hosted 95 incoming international students in mid-September.  Thank you to the host families for opening up your hearts and homes to these students!  We surveyed host families and students to get their feedback after the homestay concluded.  These two blog posts share some of the students’ comments:

FFIS Homestay Students Share What Was the Most Rewarding Part of Being with A Local Host Family
FFIS Homestay Students Share What Was the Most Challenging Part of Their Homestay Experience

Welcome Picnic – Our annual picnic welcoming incoming UO and LCC international students was held on Sunday, Sept. 16, at Alton Baker Park.  Between 300 to 400 students attended.  Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg, LCC President Margaret Hamilton, and UO President Michael Schill attended and spoke words of welcome.  Photos taken at the picnic can be viewed in this Flickr album and in this Facebook album.

U of O Daily Emerald Story About FFIS – U of O Daily Emerald reporter Olivia Sanchez attended our Welcome Picnic at Alton Baker Park on Sept. 16 and wrote a story about FFIS that was published online and on page 3 of the Sept. 25 print edition.

Fundraising – FFIS is an all-volunteer non-profit and relies upon fundraising and donations to pay for its programs.  Here are five ways that you can help:

Fisherman’s Market will donate 20% of voucher purchases on the second Monday of each month to FFIS.  This Monday, Oct. 8, is the next fundraising opportunity.  They’ll write the purchase amount at the bottom of the voucher when you place your order from their menu.  They also have take-and-bake seafood meals available that are delicious.

Fisherman's Market in Eugene, Oregon

 Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program – If you shop at Fred Meyer, link your Rewards Card to FFIS.  In addition to the Rewards points that you’ll earn, Fred Meyer will also count those points as a donation to FFIS.  Learn more about the program and how to sign up here.

fred-meyer-logo

eScrip – Register your credit and/or debit card on the eScrip website denoting FFIS as your organization of choice.  Learn more about this program here.

Direct Donation – Checks made payable to the Friendship Foundation for International Students can be mailed to: Friendship Foundation for International Students, c/o Office of International Affairs, 5209 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.

Pints for a Cause (LCC) – FFIS is also working with LCC’s International Programs.  LCC provided student workers, rice, and other items at the Welcome Picnic.  They have a fundraiser at Ninkasi’s Tasting Room on Thursday, Oct. 25.

Conversation Friend Program – Thirty-five students have signed up for the fall Conversation Friend program with more signing up almost daily.  We’ve been able to match 25 students so far and especially need male FFIS volunteers.  For those unfamiliar with how this program works, read A Conversation About the Conversation Friend Program.  If you’d like to learn more or volunteer, contact Craig Biersdorff at 541-517-7652 or ffisconversationfriends@gmail.com.

These posts share volunteer and student experiences in the program:

A Chinese Student Shares Her Thoughts About FFIS’ Conversation Friend Program
Susie Trant’s Experience as a Conversation Friend Volunteer
This Chinese PhD Student Appreciates His FFIS Conversation Friend

Maria from Finland and June Brooks

Photos – Do you have photos with your FFIS student(s) to share for possible use on future website blog posts?  They don’t have to be recent.  Send them to ffis@uoreogon.edu with a brief description of who is in each photo.

Have an Interesting Story for a Blog Post? – We’re always on the lookout for stories about FFIS volunteers and their experiences with the international students they’ve met.  Send an e-mail with some few details about your story to ffis@uoregon.edu and FFIS Steering Committee member Rick Obst will follow up with you.

Your Feedback – The Steering Committee welcomes your feedback and comments.  Send an e-mail to FFISEugene@gmail.com if you have anything that you’d like to share.  Thank you for being a part of this great local organization!

Your FFIS Steering Committee

Chair & TreasurerMatthew Fisher  (541-255-0626 or mfisher333@gmail.com)

SecretarySuzanne Dassenko

Conversation Friend Coordinators:

June Brooks  (541-714-7735 or ffisconversationfriends@gmail.com)

Craig Biersdorff  (541-517-7652 or ffisconversationfriends@gmail.com)

Steering Committee MembersCindee Robertson, Deanna Brandt, Paul Harvey, Rick Obst, Roger Ludeman, and Steve Gilbreath

U of O LiaisonBecky Megerssa

LCC LiaisonTomomi Kurosaki

FFIS Homestay Students Share What Was The Most Challenging Part of Their Homestay Experience

Bike Riding with Katherin from Peru for Post

The FFIS Homestay Program matches international students with local community volunteers for a short-term homestay when the student first arrives in Lane County. Volunteers open their hearts and home to young adults far from home, helping them to get oriented and settled. The friendships built during that brief period often last well beyond when the student has returned to their native country. Homestay families have created many fond memories for the students that they’ve hosted.

FFIS host families hosted 95 incoming international students prior to the start of the fall term.  This is what some of them had to say about their host family and their experiences in our Homestay Program:

What was the most challenging part of your FFIS homestay?

 I don’t think I meet any challenge with the homestay family.  (China)

 Nothing was challenging I was very comfortable.  (France)

 None.  (Germany)

 Nothing noteworthy as a challenge.  (Myanmar)

 Don’t have any.  (China)

 I haven’t found any part of the program challenging.  (Australia)

 Actually, nothing was challenging for me because my host parents are so nice to me.  (Japan)

Anderton studnet from China2

 Nothing at all. The hosts were very gracious and generous. They really made it convenient for me. Jim and Kathy are really amazing and they really did a stellar job, even going above and beyond.  (Singapore)

Nothing whatsoever.  (India)

 Nothing.  (Japan)

 If I need to pick one, I think it is language. But they always be patient to figure out what l say.  (Taiwan)

I would say the program is wonderful and I can honestly say that the FFIS homestay has made my transition into the United States and Eugene very comfortable.  (India)

 It’s not the first time for me to stay at the host family’s house so I did not feel it was challenged.  (South Korea)

 The four-day homestay itself. Because it was the first time of visiting and staying with a foreign family alone.  (Japan)

I think there’s nothing of challenging part.  But I still have a little difficulty with speaking English, so the conversation with host family was the most challenging part for me. (Japan)

 Getting used to some of the characteristics of their daily life. (Mexico)

Oregon Duck

 For me all was new, so I think this together with the language was the most challenging part. (Italy)

Actually, there’re not many challenges here. They were so nice to me. If there’s one, that is the lack of my ability to speak English. If I could speak more fluently, I would talk a lot. (South Korea)

 I had a lot of things I wanted to tell and talk with my FFIS host family, but I could not put them all in words well because of a lack of my English skills. (Japan)

There are usually more students wanting a homestay experience than there are available host families. If you’re not yet a volunteer, but are interested in learning more about the program, read the FAQ page or e-mail FFIS@UOregon.edu.

FFIS Homestay Students Share What Was the Most Rewarding Part of Being With a Local Host Family

Greeting at the Airport

The FFIS Homestay Program matches international students with local community volunteers for a short-term homestay when the student first arrives in Lane County. Volunteers open their hearts and home to young adults far from home, helping them to get oriented and settled. The friendships built during that brief period often last well beyond when the student has returned to their native country. Homestay families have created many fond memories for the students that they’ve hosted.

FFIS host families hosted 95 incoming international students prior to the start of the fall term.  This is what some of them had to say about their host family and their experiences in our Homestay Program:

What was the most rewarding part of your FFIS homestay?

They are very kind and talk to me a lot. I love them!  (Japan)

Communication with the family. That’s great and I know more about the culture and Eugene. (China)

To have an amazing American family here to help you adjusting to this new country and discovering Eugene.  (France)

That my host family took the time to get to know me and do trips with me, e.g. to Spencer’s Butte and Newport.  (Germany)

Feeling like home in Eugene. Knowing that there’s someone who cares for you.  (Myanmar)

Host Family and Students for Post

They’re so friendly and they took me to shopping and help to move into the dorm. They also told me that they could take me to the store if they’re going. They’re so nice.  (China)

My host family makes me discover a part of Eugene: Saturday Market, Spencer Butte… I taste some American things. They were really sweet!  (France)

Being placed with possibly the nicest people I have met, who went well and truly out of their way to accommodate me and anything I needed to prepare me for college.  (Australia)

I could interact with local people so closely and deepen my knowledge about Eugene and UO.  (Japan)

Getting to know Eugene and the American culture better. They brought me around and have me a very deep insight into life as a duck.  (Singapore)

Sitting together and talking, sailing, eating together, shopping together…  (Germany)

Sieradskis with Miho Sakai

Most of all, I could take a rest after a long trip without any concerns like finding a hotel, unfamiliar food and safety. Also, they made an effort for me to fit in Eugene. They took me places needed for everyday living, which are like Asian restaurants, groceries, a local market, a fair, and park. In the process, they tried to let me learn the area and way to campus from my apartment.  Besides, they have a lot of information about school life and always answered to my question about cultural difference.  (South Korea)

They are kind, patient, helping me a lot like set up an account here and buy the SIM card. And took me to many places to have fun.  (Taiwan)

Dan and Jan Smith were very warm and welcoming. They went out of the way to make sure I got all the support to get going. Dan took me to various places to buy the essential goods and Jan went out of her way to cook excellent food with Indian taste. All my anxieties of moving to a new country were taken care of in the best possible way.  (India)

I got to experience Eugene as a local.  (England)

They told me that I am a member of their family!! I was so happy to hear that.  (Japan)

Margaux from France

My host family were very kind people.  They offered me nice campus tour and helped me to buy some living stuff.  Their warm welcome really encouraged me.  (South Korea)

They were so kind and helpful, and I could rely on them.  (Japan)

They are really friendly. Although they are busy for jobs, they still took good care of me.  When I was upset, they gave me a lot of advice and encouragement.  (Taiwan)

My host family expressed their excitement meeting me right at the first minute. They were always so keen on hearing more about my country and background. Likewise, I found it very interesting listening to their stories. I enjoyed every minute of your talks!  (Uzbekistan)

My hosts are the some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Each day they had some other activity planned for us to do together. They are also very knowledgeable about Eugene and I especially enjoyed our discussions about politics, food, and music.  (India)

They took me to the bank and shopping to prepare for dorm life. And also they were so kind so I could adapt to my new life smoothly.  (South Korea)

They took me to many convenient places and gave me some information in Eugene, such as shopping malls, restaurants, and transportation.  So now I could have a confidence to live in my dorms by myself.  (Japan)

Photo #1

To have regarded me as one of their family.  (Japan)

I got the opportunity to learn American culture. Thanks to them, I will be able to adopt Eugene easily. My host family is very kind to me, so even after finishing FFIS homestay, they helped me and they invite me to some events! (Japan)

Getting to know people from a different culture and spending time talking with them. (Mexico)

They were very kind to me. (Italy)

The most rewarding part is that they welcomed me with heartwarming hospitality. During the stay, I could feel their love to me. I was just one foreign girl who don’t know anything about the American life, but they showed me how they live their lives and what the American culture is like. They gave me so much love that I can’t even describe it all. For almost 10 days, they helped me in many ways. When I need something, they just gave me what they have or helped me to get it. They tried to show their culture or family tradition and tell me about their lives so that I can relate to them more easily. I really appreciate them for all their help. (South Korea)

I could learn about everyday conversation in English.  I have been able to know about the Eugene through talking and visiting nice places with my FFIS host family. (Japan)

Judging from these comments, FFIS host families once again opened their warm hearts and hospitable homes to young students far from their home and made them feel welcome and loved.  Their short-term hosting definitely created lasting fond memories for the student(s) that they hosted!

There are usually far more students wanting a homestay experience than there are available host families. If you’re not yet a volunteer, but are interested in learning more about the program, read the FAQ page or e-mail FFIS@UOregon.edu.

Japanese Homestay Student Appreciates Her FFIS Host Family

Japan Map

The FFIS Homestay Program matches international students with local community volunteers for a short-term homestay when the student first arrives in Lane County. Volunteers open their hearts and home to young adults far from home, helping them to get oriented and settled. The friendships built during that brief period often last well beyond when the student has returned to their native country. Homestay families have created many fond memories for the students that they’ve hosted.

Read about what a University of Oregon student from Japan experienced as a participant in this program:

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate my host family.  They are the best host family in the world.  As you know, this was the first time for me to take an airplane and go overseas.  I was excited, but I was also anxious about my new life.  So, when I met them at the Eugene airport, I felt relieved. We were together just four days, but for me those four days were wonderful.

At the beginning of the school year, I was disappointed because I found out my English was poor.  But they gave me a call and visited me and encouraged me. Because of their support, the school year has gone smoothly.  And each time when I meet them, they made me happy. I have never forgotten what we did together.

If you’d like to host an international student in FFIS’ Homestay Program, contact Becky Megerssa, UO Liaison, at 541-346-1436 or ffis@uoregon.edu.

This U of O Student From Hong Kong Had A Wonderful FFIS Homestay Experience!

logo_color

The FFIS Homestay Program matches international students with local community volunteers for a short-term homestay when the student first arrives in Lane County. Volunteers open their hearts and home to young adults far from home, helping them to get oriented and settled. The friendships built during that brief period often last well beyond when the student has returned to their native country. Homestay families have created many fond memories for the students that they’ve hosted.

Read about what a University of Oregon student from Hong Kong experienced as a participant in this program:

I am really thankful for having such a friendly and generous couple, Larry and Kristi, as my host family during my exchange in the U of O. They are so nice that they do not only offer help to me during the first few days after my arrival, but also throughout my school terms. I truly appreciate them for helping me so much and treating me like their friend and family member.

I arrived in Eugene on the 31st of Dec, perhaps one of the busiest days of the year. As soon as I arrived, I was so surprised and delighted that I saw a welcoming handicraft hanging on the door. It was the warmest welcome ever. I felt really comfortable, as I could feel that they’re seriously looking forward to meeting me. On New Year’s Eve, they even took me to their friend’s place and we celebrated New Year together

After my school started, I still had a lot of stuff to deal with. I always asked for their opinion as I was really unfamiliar with the environment in Eugene. They always provided me with the best and most reliable answers. Also, they are always willing to give me a ride to different places, such as the grocery store and the mall, which is really appreciated.

Besides, I appreciate that they like to share their thoughts with me. I can always get new insights from them. Kristi also knows Asian culture very well. She definitely delivered a lot of new knowledge to me. I am so glad that I could have the chance to talk with a foreigner about my own culture.

It is my pleasure to have such a warm home in Eugene, I extremely appreciate their generosity and their warm hospitality. I would like to thank them once again.

If you’d like to host an international student in FFIS’ Homestay Program, contact Becky Megerssa, UO Liaison, at 541-346-1436 or ffis@uoregon.edu.

An FFIS Volunteer Shares Her Experience Hosting a U of O Student from France

France

The Friendship Foundation for International Students (FFIS) provides short-term homestay programs at the beginning of the fall, winter, and spring terms.  Incoming University of Oregon international students stay in a local community member’s home for 3-5 days.  They then move to permanent housing in an apartment or dormitory.

In this post, FFIS volunteer June Brooks shares her experience hosting UO international student Lucile de Boisson from France.

How and when did you get involved with FFIS? I have been involved as a host parent for international students since 1989. We became involved through a friend who had been a host parent for a number of years. In the past 21 years, we have probably had around 20 students.

How many times have you participated in FFIS’s Homestay program? If more than once, what other countries were your Homestay students from? Our students have come from all over Europe (England, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, Cyprus, Romania, Austria and Italy) as well as from Australia. Some of them have stayed at the U of O for only one term while others have completed entire degrees here, undergraduate as well as graduate degrees. I am still in close contact with my first student, a young man from Norway, as well as about 10 others. My husband and I were actually able to visit five of our former students while we traveled throughout northern Europe. It was certainly wonderful to see so many of them, to meet their spouses and their children or in two cases, their parents.

What did you enjoy (and/or continue to enjoy) most about your experiences with the Homestay program? The thing that I enjoy most about the program is getting to know the students and having the opportunity to show them around the Eugene area and then around Oregon. We always make it a point to take them to Crater Lake right away in September since the northern entrance to the National Park closes at the first snowfall and sometimes doesn’t open again until late June. We always take them to the coast. We also like to take them to places right here in town that they might not know about (Spencer’s Butte, Mt. Pisgah, the Bijou movie theater). Having them over for dinner on a regular basis, taking them to U of O sporting events, and taking them shopping are other things that are always enjoyable.

Please briefly explain how you may have helped Lucile make that transition from French to American culture? Lucile is one of the most outgoing, vivacious students we have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. She jumped into the American culture and all the opportunities at the U of O with no prompting from us! She has gone sea kayaking at the coast, rock climbing at Smith Rock, snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor, gone whitewater rafting on the McKenzie and she has climbed South Sister to watch the sunrise – just to name a few things she has done in the three months she has been here! She has seen more of Oregon and has enjoyed more of its natural wonders than people who have lived here their entire lives.

What was the most memorable thing you learned about Lucile’s way of life in France? I think that the most important thing we have learned from our students over the years is that the things that we as human beings have in common are much, much greater than any differences we may have because we speak a different language or have a different religion. France is not so very different from the U.S., so there hasn’t been one thing that stands out that we have learned about the French culture from Lucile.

 Was there anything you discovered about your own culture while hosting?  Most of my students comment on how friendly Americans are – how warm and outgoing we are. Depending on where they come from, they see our infrastructure and our way of doing things as very efficient and commendable, or very antiquated. It is interesting to see how that opinion changes depending on where the students hail from.

If you’d like to host an international student in FFIS’ Homestay Program, contact Becky Megerssa, UO Liaison, at 541-346-1436 or ffis@uoregon.edu.

This Chinese PhD Student Appreciates His FFIS Conversation Friend

China Map

The Conversation Friend Program is a unique opportunity for FFIS volunteers to connect with an international student during the student’s first year in Eugene. A student and a volunteer are matched on the basis of shared interests and meet for one hour a week in a public setting.

This is what a Chinese student wrote about his experiences with his FFIS Conversation Friend:

After moving to this new place to begin my Finance PhD at the University of Oregon, I felt so lonely and had a hard time adjusting myself to this strange town. This loneliness ended when I got an email from David talking about our first meeting as conversation friends. The first meeting went well at a coffee shop.

 He is like my father, warming my heart in the cold winter. He is very helpful in my life and is willing to help me anyway that he can. His help to me is much appreciated. And he is so nice and patient, always picking me up at my apartment and spending time with me during his busy schedule.

 His job is very close to my major and we always have a lot of things to talk about. He is a person who I admire—smart and gentlemanly. I always tell my parents and my friends how lucky I was to have the chance to know David. I want to say thank you to him and let him know how grateful I am for his help and time.

 To learn more about the FFIS Conversation Friend Program, contact FFIS Conversation Friend Coordinator June Brooks at 541-513-4086 or JuneEBrooks@gmail.com.

A Host Family To Me Means Having A Second Family Away From Home

Mexico

The Friendship Foundation for International Students (FFIS) provides short-term homestay programs at the beginning of the fall, winter, and spring terms.  Incoming University of Oregon international students stay in a local community member’s home for 3-5 days.  They then move to permanent housing in an apartment or dormitory.

This is what a Mexican student wrote about her FFIS homestay experience:

A host family to me means having a second family away from home, and also feeling safe and loved among nice people. Experiencing a new culture, settling down in a new country, and discovering the astonishing natural beauty of Oregon would not have been possible without my host family.

I have to start off by saying THANK YOU SO MUCH PETE and VINNIE!! Not only did we spend incredible times together, but both of you were also there for me all the time.   Some of the things we did together that I am most grateful for and I will never forget are:

  • movie nights, cooking and having dinner together
  • amazing evenings going to concerts
  • picking me up at the airport
  • visiting the Cascades
  • helping me with my school projects
  • sharing our knowledge and experiences
  • walking the dog
  • meeting the neighbors and making new friends
  • listening to my stories about my country and my family, and many more.

I am so glad I got the amazing opportunity to meet you!

If you’d like to host an international student in FFIS’ Homestay Program, contact Becky Megerssa, UO Liaison, at 541-346-1436 or ffis@uoregon.edu.