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 firstname.lastname@example.org.