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 students live with hosts?
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! Students and hosts should expect to be flexible when planning meetups or outings.
What types of activities will there be?
Many students just want to get off of the college campus for a bit and see what the average American family is like, and many hosts simply want to meet new friends! Students could be invited to partake in daily activities such as grocery shopping, attending kids’ school events, walking around Lake Charleston, or shopping at the Charleston square.
For those who have a bit more time, remember to visit different local landmarks, like our own Lincoln Log Cabin to learn about Abraham Lincoln’s time in Coles County. Visit the “Big Things in a Small Town” in Casey, Illinois.
What can we do over holiday breaks from school?
Students' and families' holiday plans depend on their own decisions. For those who will remain in town, some may appreciate being invited to the host's home to share in family holiday traditions. Just like in America, many students may have dietary needs or preferences that should be respected. Discuss this if you are planning on sharing a meal, so that everyone can learn from one another.
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?
The applications for both hosts and students include several questions about hobbies, habits, preferences, and previous international 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.
Students come to our town from all over the world! Most students are from India, Ghana, Nigeria, China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Nepal. We’ve also had 30 students who are each the only representative from their country! With approximately 60 countries represented on campus, there are many people who are looking forward to learning more about life in the United States.
Can a couple of students be paired with the same host?
Absolutely! We are always appreciative of those who can help a few more students learn about the United States. If you enjoy the IFP, please spread the word!
When will I meet my partner?
Matches will be made in the first few weeks of the 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 IFP, 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.
Can I submit pictures of my own to be featured on the IFP webpage?
Please do! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "International Friendship Program."