Suzanne Dassenko and her husband Bill joined FFIS in 2010 when they hosted a young lady from Singapore before the winter term started. She joined the Steering Committee in 2011 and has been a very active member and volunteer since.
My friend, who hosted students for 35+ years, told me I’d like it and that I’d be good at it,” said Suzanne. “She was right!”
In less than eight years, Bill and Suzanne have hosted more than 30 students from Singapore, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, Kenya, China, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nepal, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, India, Morocco, Ukraine, and Catalonia.
Suzanne is a native Oregonian from Bandon who moved to Lane County in 1992. She is now retired after working jobs as a graphic designer, research & development for a publishing company, editor/assistant editor of several publications, and as a teacher from kindergarten through 10th grade and at the university level. She holds several degrees, including an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language.
What do you enjoy most about being an FFIS Volunteer? Creating a welcoming and safe place for international students and learning about the different countries and cultures. Plus, the more than 30 students we have hosted, have helped me to adjust to having an “empty nest” and let me continue to be a Mom!
Why did you join the Steering Committee? I was at first curious as to what it was all about and then got “sucked in!” It’s a great group of people to work with and rewarding to make a difference in so many student’s lives.
What are some of your favorite memories of international students that you’ve met? I love having students sitting around my table, enjoying a meal and conversation together, who are from countries from all over the world. One student brought us a special food treat from his country, only to discover that it is also a treat in two other countries on the other side of the world—just has a different name.
And it’s always fun to get reactions from students when they first arrive at our log house out in the woods. Many of them live in high-rise apartments in the city—so a totally new experience for them. And of course, my husband enjoys showing the photos of some of the critters we’ve had visit our yard in recent years—raccoon, fox, cougar and bear.
We have also hosted some of the parents of our international students. Even though most of them speak very little English, it has been a fun experience to have them as guests in our home.
An added bonus is being invited to several weddings as special guests – one in Singapore and one in Ecuador. And I have several international grandchildren that have arrived or will soon, that I hope to visit in the coming year.
Anything else that you would like to share about your FFIS experiences?
Being an FFIS host family has enlarged our heart and shrunk our world. I’d recommend it to anyone!