Thursday January 18, 2018

Seeking Participants for International Friendship Families

The International Friendship Families (IFF) program at the University of Dayton fosters a family-spirited environment, where international students and local community members can develop friendships and share global experiences through various activities in a semester-long cross-cultural experience.

International students are matched with local community members through a connection of mutual interests. This fall, Kathy Trimeloni- a Dayton community member, and Khadeja Farahmand- an international student at the University of Dayton, were paired together in the IFF program. Kathy explains that her decision to sign up for IFF was a natural progression of her life. She has a connection to international programs, having traveled overseas, her involvement with the Dayton Council on World Affairs, and her volunteer work in Afghanistan through the Peace Corps. Khadeja decided to sign up for the IFF program because she found it was a great opportunity to adjust to a completely different environment in the United States, by learning about U.S. culture and sharing her Afghani culture, too.

Research shows that friendships with the local community help international students develop stronger language skills, greater academic achievement, lower levels of stress and better overall adjustment to U.S. culture. “I have a broader understanding of U.S. culture and it has impacted my life tremendously. For example, my English has improved, I learned more about different American cuisine, and festivals like Thanksgiving, Halloween and Christmas. I will share this message of kindness, love and generosity of Americans to other people back home. I received a family and so much love,” Khadeja shares. 

Participants in this cross-cultural partnership program are encouraged to meet at least once a month for activities that they both enjoy. Kathy and Khadeja enjoyed experiences together that included traveling to a horse competition near Cincinnati, shopping for clothes and groceries, going to the movies and dinner, meeting the animals on Kathy’s daughter’s farm, and an especially new and exciting experience for Khadeja -- going to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Khadeja expresses, “It was the first time in my life going to a concert; it was a different experience and I felt peace and joy.”

Kathy believes that staff, faculty and individuals in the local community can benefit from the International Friendship Families program. “Try it. Go for it. It's a great growth experience and can really expand your global perspective on the world.”

“I just want thank University of Dayton, specifically the International Friendship Family program for building the bridges of understandings of different cultures. This is such an important step towards creating a world with peace and love and celebrating people of different religions, cultures, languages and more. We are a global community and a family. We learn more from each other by sharing conversations and love,” Khadeja shares.

We encourage all faculty, staff and international students to consider signing up for this experience. The deadline to sign up for the Spring 2018 International Friendship Families is Monday, January 22. To learn more about the program and apply to join, please visit our website or contact the ISSS office at isss@udayton.edu.

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