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UWRF International Friendship Program strives for multicultural experiences

December 12, 2018

The International Friendship Program at UW-River Falls has been a project on campus for several years and helps many international students transition into their lives here in the community. UWRF students and members from the surrounding cities can sign up for the International Friendship Program, and are there to support international students throughout their time on campus. The program also promotes cultural understanding in the community by creating a way to build new relationships between different cultures.

The program pairs international students with another UWRF student or a local family, based on a survey of questions asked regarding interests and hobbies. The program is mainly a way for domestic students and community members to share American culture with the international students. Students or community members can bring their International Student to events on campus or in the community, like sporting events or inviting them to participate in holiday festivities.

This also serves as a way for students at UWRF to learn about international cultures and gain new global perspectives. The program gives domestic and international students a one-on-one opportunity to share each other's cultural experiences. Vanessa Luther, the program coordinator last year said, “The program is a great way for students to learn about other cultures.”

The program promotes the idea of broadening a cross-cultural understanding. It is an alternative way to experience other cultures rather than studying abroad. Kelsey Mclean, the current program coordinator said, “One of the campuses core values is global engagement, and this is a great way that students can gain that global engagement by staying on campus.”

Kelsey Mclean also talked about how this program should be a positive experience for everyone that participates. She said, “The program goes both ways, our friendship domestic partners also get a lot of reciprocal benefits by getting the opportunity to learn about another culture as well.”  

Students or community members can be paired with international students at any time. The goal of the program is to build new friendships by having domestic students or community members invite their international student to do daily activities that they already do. Students can invite their international students home with them on the weekends or during holidays if they so desire. The main idea is to just share stories of their culture and gain a new friendship that is out of the ordinary.

Anyone on campus or within the surrounding communities can sign up to be a part of the International Friendship Program. There is no certain amount of commitment that is needed to participate, international students and domestic students can be as involved as little or as much as they want. By just attending campus sporting events to sharing family family experiences, there is no limit. The main goal is to just create a friendly environment on campus by creating lasting friendships across cultures.

The link to sign up for the program is:https://uwrf.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4J7ZaFgi3syHTYF or the form as well as additional information, is available on the UWRF International Friendship Program webpage.