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

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.


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