This Japanese Student Really Appreciated Her FFIS Conversation Friend

Japan 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 Japanese student wrote about her FFIS Conversation Friend experience:

I am really lucky because you are my conversation friend.  We talked about lots of things and you taught me various cultural differences.  I really like to go shopping with you.  And I can describe the store and shopping differences between here and Japan easily and clearly.

You tried to understand my poor English every time and it was great chance for me to practice English.  Recently, some people told me that I improved my English. I know you helped me to improve my English.  And I really appreciate that you introduced me to your family and friends.  It was really great time to see lots of new people. I really like your family, especially your cute nieces and nephews.

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 FFIS.ConversationFriends@gmail.com or 541-517-7652.

FFIS News for November 2018

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Thanksgiving Dinner at an FFIS Volunteer’s Home

Fall is here and the holidays are fast approaching. We’d like to update you on some of the FFIS activities the Steering Committee is working on.

Share Thanksgiving (Nov. 22)Thanksgiving is a very traditional American holiday. Thirty-five international students signed up to share this special day with an FFIS family. Seven families have offered to host 13 students, leaving 22 students hoping for the opportunity. Students usually feel more comfortable if another student is with them, so ideally FFIS families could invite two or more students. If you’re interested, complete the online application and we’ll be in touch.

International Thanksgiving Celebration (Nov. 18) – The international student community in Eugene and Springfield is invited to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday, Nov. 18, beginning at 4:00 pm in the Morse Event Center on the Northwest Christian University campus near the UO. Last year they had several hundred students from UO, LCC, NWCU, and elsewhere attend. The organizers asked the FFIS Steering Committee if any of our members might be interested in volunteering to work as servers that afternoon. If you’re interested, or would like to learn more, send an e-mail to Karen Head at khead@nwcu.edu.

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The turkey is almost ready for hungry UO international students to eat!

Conversation Friend Program – Conversation Friends are still needed. Fifty-nine international students have applied and 48 have been matched to date. If you’re interested in volunteering, or know someone who might be, contact either June Brooks (541-914-7735) or Craig Biersdorff (541-517-7652) or send an e-mail to ffis.conversationfriends@gmail.com.

Winter Home Stay – The influx of incoming international students for the winter term is not large, but there may be a need for additional FFIS families to host prior to the start of classes in early January. If you’re interested, send an e-mail to ffis@uoregon.edu.

Fisherman's Market in Eugene, Oregon

Fundraising Opportunity @ Fisherman’s Market (Nov. 12, Veterans Day) – The second Monday of every month is when we have the chance to enjoy some great seafood and help FFIS financially. Print out the voucher below and bring it with you to Fisherman’s Market this Monday (11/12). Give it to them when you order something off of their menu, purchase some of their delicious frozen takeout meals to prepare at home, or buy some seafood to serve at Thanksgiving or another meal. Twenty percent of your purchase will come back to FFIS to help support our programs. Can’t make it on Nov. 12? Mark Dec. 10 on your calendar and make plans to visit Fisherman’s Market at 830 W. 7th Street then. Additional parking is available on the north side of 7th Street if needed.

Fisherman's Market FundraiserFundraising Opportunity @ Mosaic (Nov. 26 – Dec. 2) Susan Costa is an FFIS member and owner of Mosaic Fair Trade Collection. The store sources products from producers in developing countries who receive living wages and have safe working conditions with no child labor. KVAL aired a story recently about Susan and her fair trade store.

Mosaic Logo

During the week after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26 to Dec. 2), Susan is offering to donate 20% of her sales to FFIS. Stop by her store at 28 East Broadway. It’s just east of Voodoo Donuts and Kesey Square and she validates parking in the nearby city garages. Print out the  flyer below and present it when you do some Christmas shopping. Call the store at 541-344-4000 if you have any questions.

FFIS Fundraiser at Mosaic

Thank you to all of our volunteers who open their hearts and homes and provide a friendly environment for international students in our community!

Getting the Word Out About FFIS – Although FFIS has been around for almost 70 years, it’s not well known in our local community. Two FFIS volunteers recently let us know about potential opportunities to share what we do: 1) an Acts of Kindness segment on KMTR with news anchor Jody Reynosa, and 2) to give a brief presentation at a Eugene Chamber of Commerce Greeters meeting in 2019. We’re working on converting these opportunities into realities.

If you know of ways in which we can spread the word about FFIS and its programs, send an e-mail to ffiseugene@gmail.com. We’ll let you know when to tune in to KMTR as we learn more!

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FFIS’ Share Thanksgiving Program Creates Fond Memories (And Full Stomachs)

FFIS Steering Committee – FFIS is comprised entirely of local volunteers who believe in and support our mission. The Steering Committee meets at noon on the first Wednesday of every month from Sept. through June in the second-floor conference room at Umpqua Bank, 675 Oak St., near the downtown Hilton and Lane County Courthouse. Anyone is welcome to attend. If you’d like to get on the agenda, send an e-mail in advance to FFIS President Matthew Fisher at ffiseugene@gmail.com. We welcome anyone who wants to join the Committee and help to build our organization!

Thank you for offering your time and talents, your home and hospitality, to international students far from their home and families! You become like a second family to them and your heartfelt generosity fosters enormous goodwill. It makes a lasting impact on their lives. That in a nutshell is what FFIS’ mission is all about. Your comments, feedback, and suggestions are always welcome.

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 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.