The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

62° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hosts offer friendship to foreign students

    Nancy Tomlinson, an English as a Second Language teacher at Cragin Elementary, left, hands sign-up forms to Pam Obando, Residence Life associate director of communications and outreach, while business sophomore Duoduo Du, right, looks on at the International Friends meeting Wednesday night. Obando has been Duoduos host for more than a year now.
    Nancy Tomlinson, an English as a Second Language teacher at Cragin Elementary, left, hands sign-up forms to Pam Obando, Residence Life associate director of communications and outreach, while business sophomore Duoduo Du, right, looks on at the International Friends meeting Wednesday night. Obando has been Duoduo’s host for more than a year now.

    More students every year are traveling from across the globe to become international students at the UA. For International Friends, a local nonprofit group, this means finding more Tucson community “”hosts”” to pair up with international students and help them get acquainted with Tucson.

    Volunteers who were interested in serving as mentors and friends to visiting international students met Wednesday night in the Ocotillo room of the Residence Life Offices on the UA campus to discuss the benefits and purpose of becoming a student host.

    “”What we do is give a way for the students to meet people in the Tucson community, become friends with the people in the community, and really get a chance to explore what Tucson is,”” president of International Friends Wendy Scheder said. “”We match international students with … people from the community as a way to build a bridge for the international students who come here, get off the plane, start school, don’t know anybody.””

    Although the term “”host”” is applied to volunteer community members, the foreign students do not live with them, and only see them on average of once per month.

    According to Scheder, 40 international students have applied for a host this semester and an unprecedented 200 students last fall.

    With more foreign students expected next fall, International Friends is looking to bring more members of Tucson together to act as friends and mentors to the students.

    “”It’s a wonderful experience for everyone,”” vice president of International Friends Nancy Tyson said. “”So many students come to the university each year from Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. It’s an unforgettable experience that your students won’t forget. And what we’re doing is not even that hard, but it is very important to them.””

    Each year an increasing number of international students come to the UA to study, with students from China and India making up the highest percentage of international students, Scheder said.

    “”It’s really amazing to be a part of this community,”” Beijing native and business sophomore Duoduo Du said. She transferred to the UA last January without any friends, contacts or knowledge of the English language.

    “”It was very difficult at first. I was very insecure, even eating Chinese food made me more secure, but having someone in the community to show me around really made it easier for me to learn what life was like here,”” Duoduo said.

    International Friends is an independent, nonprofit organization partnered with the university, which allows it to help host foreign students, but does not allow UA students to act as hosts.

    Although the demand for the program has increased each year, International Friends guarantees that all incoming international students will be paired with a host if desired.

    Though students don’t live with their hosts, they form an incredible bond, Scheder said.

    “”No matter where you’re from,”” Duoduo said, “”a friendship lasts forever.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search