Happy New Year and Thank You to All of Our FFIS Volunteers!

If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.
If you want to touch the present, touch a flower.
If you want to touch the future, touch a life.

Happy New Year

Dear FFIS Volunteers,

Happy New Year!  The FFIS Steering Committee is very appreciative of your commitment, time, efforts, and sacrifices in truly embodying our mission – fostering goodwill between the local community and UO international students, alumni, scholars, and their families.

Thank You 01

Your combined efforts over the years as FFIS volunteers have helped to impact the lives of literally hundreds of incoming international students. Those contributions can’t be measured. Your investment in their lives will pay dividends for many years in the future, often in ways that no one could foresee.

You volunteered without expectation of fame, glory, or community appreciation. Your efforts were more deeply motivated, and everyone’s lives that you’ve touched (directly and indirectly) are the better for it. THANK YOU for your service!

Thank You 02

 

FFIS News for November 2018

ffis news

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.

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Thanksgiving Dinner at an FFIS Volunteer’s Home

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

 

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.

This Japanese Student Loved Her FFIS Homestay Experience!

Japan Map

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 Japanese student wrote about her FFIS homestay experience:

I really appreciate this Friendship Foundation program which gives me an opportunity to meet such a great host family. When I first arrived here, I did not know anything about the city, university and how to start my new life.

But they helped by showing me around the city, going shopping, and acclimating myself to life here. After the university started and I moved to the residence hall, they often invited me for dinner and I especially enjoyed spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with them. It was so nice to be able to experience traditional American ceremonies and actually know what they are like. They let me join their family traditions and I enjoyed a huge, tasty dinner as well.

I really appreciate them for giving me a lot of love just like I was their daughter. The most memorable time for me was just chilling at their home and watching a football game together. They always made me feel so relieved, which I have never felt other than my home in Japan and I remember I fell asleep on the sofa every time I visited their home. I cannot thank them enough for all the help, love, and the great foods they have given me. I am sure they are the best host family for me! Thank you so much for everything and I love you so much.

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.

A Nepalese Student’s Experience With the FFIS Homestay Program

Nepal Map

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 student from Nepal wrote about her FFIS homestay experience:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my host family for the warm welcome they gave me when I first arrived here in Eugene. I still remember Ellen’s voice calling my name at the Eugene airport.   She made me feel very comfortable at her home. I am really grateful to her and her husband for their hospitality. I had a wonderful time at her place.  She helped me to become familiar with American culture by addressing all my curiosities regarding it.

It was very kind of her to host two international students at the same time. She took us for a bike ride around Eugene and taught us safety rules for riding a bike in Eugene.   She has even loaned me a bike and I am still using it to commute. This bike has been very useful for me, as it not only saves my time, but also keeps me fit.  As I am from a landlocked country, I was very excited when she took us to the Pacific Coast.

Even after I started living in my apartment, she frequently asked if she could help me with anything.  Because of her, my transition into a new place and culture was easier than I had expected.  I am lucky to have a host family like hers.

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.

What a Chinese Student Thinks About her FFIS Conversation Friend

China Map

The FFIS Conversation Friend Program creates deep and lasting memories for international students who get this experience. This is what a female Chinese student wrote about her FFIS Conversation Friend:

You’re pretty! It was the first impression you gave me. I’m jealous that you’re taller and slimmer than me! Just kidding.

Although we just met several times, I really like being with you. I guess you may think I’m quiet? Actually I’m not quiet in my heart, but I don’t know why I don’t talk a lot and it’s hard for me to speak loudly. Anyway, I want to let you know I see you as my friend.

I really appreciate your enthusiastic contributions to non-profit organizations, such as the one to do with women which taught me how to wrap presents and this one – FFIS. And I remember you delivered a speech about disabled women on campus. All of this you’ve done encourage me to learn the rights I should have as a lady and know those people who need help. Thank you for your kind behavior!

Register on eScrip to help FFIS with its fundraising efforts!

eScrip

You can help FFIS raise needed funds at no cost to you on eScrip!  Just follow the directions below to help contribute:

  • Register your credit and/or debit card on the e-scrip website denoting FFIS as your organization of choice. Go to www.escrip.com and click on Sign up.
  • While you’re there, check out the list of participating merchants and restaurants.
  • When you make a purchase with your registered card, the participating merchants automatically contributes a percentage to FFIS. The percentage varies by business and the amount spent.
  • E-Scrip takes 15%. The rest goes to FFIS by electronic funds transfer.

FFIS is run entirely by volunteers with only some financial support from the University of Oregon.  Your contributions help to support our programs that match international students with local community members for friendship and cultural understanding.