FFIS Newsletter, May 2021

Notes from the Chair

Through the years, I have witnessed the ebb and flow that nonprofits like the Friendship Foundation have endured here in Eugene. The financially leaner years after the Great Recession forced our organization to find new ways to fund our programs and services. It also tested our commitment to our mission of bridging cultures, enhancing friendships, and fostering goodwill with the international community.

As the academic year comes to a close, I am reminded of the strength and courage it took to move through the recession and into an era of renewed focus, purpose and opportunity. Today the Covid-19 pandemic presents a new set of challenges, ones that may exist indefinitely. But, as before, I’m confident that good judgement and reasonable action will prevail and Eugene, the United States, and the international community will find a way to get back to some semblance of our recent past. 

That said, we have started the planning process for each of our programs and events. Please keep in mind that we remain committed to the health and safety of every volunteer and international student, and will continue to communicate with the UO’s Division of Global Engagement and local health authorities to determine best practices when we return to in-person programing and events.  While were excited at the prospect of getting back to “normal”, we also understand that this is an iterative process, requiring certain things to fall in place in order to move forward. Ultimately, our plans will be contingent on what state and local authorities decide come fall. 

~Matthew Fisher

Fall Term Update

FFIS is planning to re-open the short-term homestay and conversation friend programs to new incoming international students and visiting scholars.  Many new international students rely on FFIS’ short-term homestay program for temporary housing prior to moving into on-campus student housing, and the conversation friend program gives students a connection to a community friend to practice English conversation and learn about our community.

We understand there may be concerns about COVID-19 in considering to host or volunteer. We have been in consultation with the UO, which requires all new students to be fully vaccinated prior to the start of fall term. Based on this, FFIS will follow the same policy for volunteers and students as follows:

1. New international students/scholars must be vaccinated prior to arrival to the U.S. in order to be matched with a FFIS host family.

2. FFIS hosts and volunteers must be vaccinated prior to hosting an international student/scholar.

Volunteer Update Survey

It has been a year since we last heard from many of you and a lot has happened since then (understatement of the year!) We want to know if you are still interested in volunteering with FFIS this coming year.

Please take a few minutes to update your interest and contact information.  We would like to hear from you by June 15th. Click HERE to go to the FFIS Volunteer Update Survey.

Thank you in advance for responding to our survey!

Short-Term Homestay Program

We have updated our website with important dates to help you plan.

Homestay Expectations: https://ffisoregon.org/program-information/

Homestay Dates and International Student Orientation: https://ffisoregon.org/homestay-date-international-student-orientation/

Conversation Friend Update

The Conversation Friend Program, a long core component of our FFIS outreach, was tabled this school year. The program is one in which we pair one volunteer with one student to encourage friendship as well as to provide a chance for students to practice their conversational English skills with a native speaker. While we considered having a virtual conversational friend program, with our greatly reduced number of international students, it was decided to suspend the program until fall 2021. It has been disappointing to our many wonderful volunteers not to have this chance to form a special bond with a student or a visiting scholar from another country. We continue to hope that as the U of O campus works towards reopening in-person classes in the fall, that we will be able to start the program up again in October. Please consider volunteering to be a conversation friend once it is considered a safe and prudent thing to do. It is a program that is greatly loved by our students and by our volunteers and we look forward to reinstating it. 

Please also visit our website for information and stories about our Conversation Friend Program: https://ffisoregon.org/conversation-friend-information/

Lasting Friendship

I’m very grateful for the Conversation Friend Program of UO! And it is a pleasure to have had my conversation friend, Cindee!  For me, she was not only a talking partner, but an English teacher, a true friend, a respectable senior in my life. I learned so much from her about America, Oregon, especially Eugene. She helped me a lot in my daily life when I stayed in Eugene and gave me a very warm and impressive memory there! We still keep in touch now and always miss each other!

Ye 
Beijing, China

rpt

FFIS Plans for Fall Picnic

Members of the FFIS are tentatively beginning to plan to have the Annual Fall Picnic to welcome new international students. The picnic date is October 2 2021, and plans are underway to enjoy a picnic to welcome new international students, host families, FFIS volunteers, and U of O and Lane CC staff to the event. Plans will be contingent on progress on Covid vaccines and Covid rates in Eugene. 

As you may have heard through the local media, the UO is returning to primarily in-person instruction fall term 2021. This means that we will see the return of international students and visiting scholars to the UO in September. We are very excited to welcome students to our community again! 

 FFIS Guiding Principles

As an organization, FFIS is welcoming, supportive, inclusive, and fun. We value open-mindedness and respect for the richness of cultures around the world. FFIS asks that anyone participating in our activities comply with the following Guiding Principles:

  • Keep the welfare of UO international students, scholars and their dependents foremost.
  • Follow through on your commitment as a volunteer.
  • Demonstrate awareness of, sensitivity to, and respect for other values, beliefs, viewpoints, systems, and cultures.
  • Recognize the cultural orientations and values of others, and be aware of how those orientations affect their interactions with people from other cultures.
  • Be accepting and inclusive of others no matter their race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, political opinion, immigration status, or disability.
  • Accept and embrace others of all religions and political beliefs without proselytizing. Proselytizing is defined as unsolicited, coercive, manipulative, and/ or hidden persuasion that seeks to influence others to adopt another way of thinking, believing, or behaving, particularly in relation to religion or politics.
  • Do not exploit, threaten, coerce or sexually harass others.
  • Seek appropriate guidance and direction when faced with ethical dilemmas.

Please help us ensure that FFIS is a place where international friendships can truly flourish.

FFIS Homestay Students Tour Nike Campus Thanks to Past Homestay Student

Douffy Youm from Senegal was an FFIS homestay student many years ago.  He graduated and worked his way up to become an executive at Nike in Portland, but still kept in touch with his FFIS host family.

The family hosted four University of Oregon international students prior to the fall term.  One of the students is interested in the sports business, so the family reached out to Douffy to see how he could help.

Douffy (in the green sweatshirt) invited them all to Portland and gave them a tour of the Nike campus.  Everyone had a great time and a memorable experience that they can share with family and friends back home.  You never know what special moments might be created when participating in this program!

FFIS Homestay Students Visit Nike Campus

 


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.

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.

Japanese Student Visits a Pumpkin Patch with Her FFIS Conversation Friend

Pumpkin Patch 01

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

What the volunteer and student choose to do is up to them.  FFIS member Jean McClain recently took her conversation friend Yui to the Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm.  It was Yui’s first time to visit a pumpkin patch and go on a hay ride.  She clearly enjoyed the experience as the bright smile in these pictures show.

Pumpkin Patch 02

We can always use more volunteers!  If you’re interested in learning more or participating, send an e-mail to FFIS.ConversationFriends@gmail.com or give us a call.  Craig Biersdorff (541-517-7652) or June Brooks (541-714-7735) will be in touch with you to answer your questions.

Pumpkin Patch 03

FFIS News for October 2019

ffis news

The UO academic year has started and so are FFIS’ programs. It’s time for an update on our activities.


Fundraiser: Hop Valley Brewing is donating $1 to FFIS for every pint served between 5:00 and 8:00 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 16.  Invite a friend, enjoy a craft beer, and help FFIS raise money.  Hop Valley is located in the Whiteaker neighborhood at 990 W. 1st Avenue in Eugene.  Other fundraising opportunities can be viewed here.


Fall Homestay Program: Forty-five host families opened their hearts and homes to 57 newly arrived international students attending the University of Oregon.  FFIS surveyed our host families and the homestay students.  You can read some of the feedback on these blog posts:


Welcome Picnic: Several hundred international students from the University of Oregon and Lane Community College enjoyed food, fun, and new friendships Saturday, Sept. 21, at Alton Baker Park. The UO Duck and LCC Titan mascots stopped by. Paul Harvey’s pictures captured the activities on a sunny fall day.

FFIS Welcome Picnic

The picnic began with Steering Committee introductions and words of welcome from:

A picnic this size can’t happen without volunteer and community contributions such as:

  • Host families who came and brought large salads
  • LCC students who were invaluable with setup, food service, and clean up
  • Lane Community College for providing rice and salads
  • Paul Harvey and Susie Peters for cooking the 300 hot dogs served
  • Trader Joe’s for providing cookies and watermelon and having a table there with some giveaway items
  • Bi-Mart for providing the plates and napkins
  • Cash & Carry for providing a gift card we used to purchase cups
  • Steering Committee members, especially co-chairs Cindee Robertson and Deanna Brandt

Conversation Friend Program: We can always use more volunteers!  If you’re interested in learning more or participating, send an e-mail to FFIS.ConversationFriends@gmail.com.  Craig Biersdorff or June Brooks will be in touch with you to answer your questions.  Matching for the fall term will begin in October.


Share Thanksgiving: If you’re interested in sharing your Thanksgiving tradition with an international student (or two), let us know by sending an e-mail to FFIS@UOregon.edu.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hungry international students preparing to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner


Mark Your Calendar
Share Thanksgiving – November 28
Winter Homestay – Dec. 28 to Jan. 4


FFIS Steering Committee – Any member is welcome to attend our Steering Committee meetings.  We meet at 11:30 am 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 Hult Center and Lane County Courthouse. If you’d like to get on the agenda, send an e-mail in advance to FFIS President Matthew Fisher at ffiseugene@gmail.com.

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. That in a nutshell is what FFIS’ mission is all about. Your comments, feedback, and suggestions are always welcome.

Thank You 01


Your FFIS Steering Committee

Chair & Treasurer – Matthew Fisher (541-255-0626 or mfisher333@gmail.com)
Secretary – Open

Conversation Friend Coordinators:
June Brooks (541-714-7735 or ffis.conversationfriends@gmail.com)
Craig Biersdorff (541-517-7652 or ffis.conversationfriends@gmail.com)

Committee Chairs:

Fundraising – Deanna Brandt
Media – Rick Obst
Volunteer Retention – Kent Henricksen
Volunteer Recruitment – Jean McClain
Welcome Picnic – Cindee Robertson and Deanna Brandt

Other Steering Committee Members – Paul Harvey and Ray Slaughter. 

U of O Liaison – Becky Megerssa
LCC Liaison – Tomomi Kurosaki


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.

Host Family and Students

FFIS Host Families Share Their Tips for New Host Families

FFIS Homestay Program

The FFIS Homestay Program matches University of Oregon 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. Homestay families have created many fond memories for the students that they’ve hosted.

This fall 57 students stayed with 45 host families.  FFIS surveys the families after the homestay ends.  One question asks families to share ideas and suggestions new families can use when they begin hosting.

If you could share your experience with a new FFIS host, what tip would you offer?

  • Cooking meals together is a fun way to get to know each other. We have some conversation starter questions that were fun to answer after eating.
  • Be open to new things. Speak slowly and clearly so they can understand you. Pause and look directly at them when they speak and compliment their English.
  • Take them to the Coast if you can. Many times, the students are worried about getting things set up, but there’s usually time to do that and also let them see a broader part of Oregon.
  • Understand that every student will come with different expectations. Some will become very close friends and some will drift away after the first two weeks. This is not a reflection on the host family. Also, plan a fun thing to do and laugh!
  • Make sure they attend the welcome picnic and gradually encourage them to become more independent.FFIS Welcome Picnic
  • Try to clear your schedule for part of the time to help them get ready to move in.
  • Be friendly and be yourself. Try to learn what you can about your student’s country.
  • It is useful to know something of the culture and traditions of the country your student is from.
  • Try it and see if you like it!
  • We spent time talking about how to make friends. For instance, after introducing yourself we talked about the variety of questions to ask someone. My young woman was very excited to tell me how wonderful this worked and how quickly she is making friends.
  • Be clear about the dates of the stay from the very beginning.
  • Be sensitive to the student’s need for sleep upon arrival. Reinforce the length of stay you have agreed to. Be open to learning new things about the student’s homeland. Don’t talk politics or religion. If you attend church, politely ask if the student would like to attend with you.
  • The first night, let them rest. On the second day, get them situated on campus and go shopping.Picnic Scene
  • Be flexible, but at the same time help the student become aware of the expectations of behavior in your family and in American culture.
  • This is a rewarding experience.
  • Be good listeners. Have positive suggestions ready. Most students are very capable of being on their own, are proficient in English, and are highly motivated. But they are far from home and do run into snags. These students will be leaders in their own country, and it is important that they have a good experience while they are here.
  • Be able and willing to change your plans with little advance notice.
  • Usually the student is more confident with his or her written English language skills versus their verbal skills. Have a journal in which students can better express themselves about their homestay experience and read what past students have written. If the student feels more comfortable writing in their native language, let them. A future student that speaks that language can always translate it. You’d be amazed what students will write that they are afraid to verbalize, because they are not comfortable verbalizing it in English.

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.

Thai Students

What Was the Most Rewarding Part of Hosting?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The FFIS Homestay Program matches University of Oregon 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. Homestay families have created many fond memories for the students that they’ve hosted.

This fall 57 students stayed with 45 host families.  FFIS surveys the families after their stay. This is what some of them had to say about the student they hosted:

What was the most rewarding part of hosting?

  • We met a very nice young man who seemed very comfortable in our home
  • We got to meet another great young woman from Taiwan. She was curious and open to everything. It was a pleasure to have her. We always learn something. We also appreciate how anxious student’s parents are about their student’s experience, and it is rewarding to put them more at ease to have “grandparents” here in Eugene.
  • The opportunity to interact with our student, both in English and German (her language).
  • The joy of helping students in a hard and new time.
  • Seeing the students from four different countries become friends and share their hopes and plans for the future.
  • Seeing my guest interacting with my kids.
  • Our friendship student is a delightful young lady.
  • Meeting a delightful young man from France and learning about his culture.
  • Meeting our student and getting to know her. She was very polite and gracious. Eager to learn about our culture and people. Very enjoyable to have in our home. Easy to serve food. fit right in.
  • Learning more about other cultures and countries through visiting students and introducing them to life here in Eugene – Oregon – USA
  • Learning about the student’s home life and their education goals.
  • Learning about our student’s family, country, and his plans, aspirations, and fears. He has already been back for a weekend stay and will be joining us for Easter dinner.
  • Learning about Iran!
  • Helping our student to get acclimated to Eugene and sharing cultural activities with her.
  • Knowing that we are helping a student’s transition to life in the US.
  • Giving a big hug when the luggage still had not shown up after 4 days! Also helping to problem solve unique challenges. We always learn so much about other cultures when we try to explain our own differences!!
  • Getting to know two interesting young scholars. Getting them on bicycles and helping them be independent and settled. Sharing cultural and musical events with them.
  • Everything! She is a delight. I feel I helped her be launched into the dorm and making new friends.
  • Enjoying meeting a lovely girl from Japan. She was grateful and easy to get to know.

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 Program

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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