FAQ for Host Families
What is the International Friendship Program?
The International Friendship Program (IFP) matches current international EIU students with community members. This longstanding program allows for the development of friendship, promotion of peace, and exchange of cultures between American families and international students.
Will my student live at my home?
No, students either live on campus or elsewhere in or near Charleston.
What are the expectations of this program?
The friendships in the program develop based on the individual personalities of the students and community members. As you get to know one another, the relationship will establish its own direction. Just relax, and be yourself! The students simply want to experience day-to-day American life, so just include the student on what you normally do.
What types of activities should I do with my student?
Many students just want to get off of the college campus for a bit and see what the average American family is like. Include them in your regular activities such as grocery shopping, attending kids’ school events, walking around Lake Charleston, and shopping at the Charleston square.
Students who have time for an outing would certainly enjoy visiting different local landmarks. Take them to Lincoln Log Cabin to learn about Abraham Lincoln’s time in Coles County. Visit the “Big Things in a Small Town” in Casey. Attend EIU activities together, like sporting events, band concerts, plays, or campus celebrations.
What will they do over holiday breaks from school?
Their plans for the holidays depend on their own decisions. For those who will remain in town, some may appreciate being invited to your house to share in the traditions your family has for holidays. Just like in America, many students may have dietary needs or preferences that you should respect. Discuss this with them if you are planning on sharing a meal, so that everyone can learn from each other.
May individuals participate in the International Friendship Program?
Yes! We encourage both individual community members and families to join the program.
What is the length of commitment?
The formal match lasts for one academic year, from September to May, but of course some friendships last a lifetime! We encourage all matches to get together at least once a month.
How are the matches made?
Students come to our town from all over the world! Most of our students recently were from India, Ghana, Nigeria, China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Nepal. We’ve also had 30 students who are the only representative from their country for the entire semester, and likely the entire year! With over 60 countries represented on campus, there are many students who are looking forward to meeting you!
The applications for both hosts and students include several questions about hobbies, habits, preferences, and previous experiences. We do our best to match hosts and students on mutual answers, but the goal of the IFP is to meet people from around the world and learn about them and their countries!
Can I be matched with more than one student?
Absolutely! We are always appreciative of those who can help a few more students learn about the United States.
When will I meet my student?
Matches will be made in the first few weeks of the fall semester. As your mutual schedules allow, you are welcome to meet for coffee or an event on your own.
How do I join?
If you are interested in participating in the program, please complete the appropriate application above. EIU employees have already been subject to a background check as part of their employment, but non-EIU employees must also submit a background check. This is at no cost to you and only takes a few days.