From the Hosts:
Jayne, Host Friend:
This is a combination of words from my daughter and I from our experience together:
"We were matched with Valentina, from Venezuela 4 years ago. I had requested a student from a Spanish speaking country since my daughter was adopted from Guatemala. They hit it off beautifully and have enjoyed spending time together. It is almost as though they are sisters and Maria enjoys having an 'older sister' in Valentina. We had a lot of fun introducing her to Wisconsin culture, and winter activities in particular. We took her to Beaver Creek Reserve and they had a great time learning to cross country ski, as well as snow shoe. We also learned about making maple syrup at that time and it was new to Maria as well as Valentina. Over the years, we have had some traditions such as making puppy chow for her at finals time and she has come to our house to do some baking as well, when she has the time. When Maria was in a parade in Whitehall, Valentina had the time to come and experience a small town fair in early June. Now that Valentina is nearly ready to graduate, we are excited to meet the rest of her family as they travel north for the big event.
We have had other international students who have become part of the family, but having Valentina for 4 years has been a real blessing for us. She came at a time when my daughter was ready to have a special relationship with a college student. I would highly recommend this to anyone with children!"
Connie, Host Friend:
"Hosting international students for several years has brought our family unlimited joy. It has also offered us the opportunity to be good ambassadors for our own country. Hosting has encouraged our children to be open-minded and eager to learn."
Bob & Janet, Host Friends:
"If you are considering becoming a host for the UW - Eau Claire International Host Friend Program, do not hesitate, become involved today. Our experiences with the program have exceeded our expectations.
For the time and resources you provide, you get worldwide friendships. The students we have hosted are mature, smart, and grateful for the people who are willing to be their family here in 'The States'.
In addition to meeting and spending time with the international students, we have
also gotten to know their families. We have had the opportunity to travel to our international students' countries and stayed with their families. One comment that has been repeated to us many times by the students' parents, 'It is good to know our kids have people who care and make sure our kids are doing OK'. By being a Host Family, you provide comfort for families around the world.
Our experiences with our international students have provided us with a personal education about how life is in other counties. This education has helped our knowledge about what is really happening in the world from people who live there. We provide opportunities for the students to learn about 'The States'. Through their questions and our conversations, we have a greater appreciation of our living in 'The States.'
We are thankful that we became involved with the UW - Eau Claire International Host Friend Program. The experience has been one of the joys of our lives.
Our students arrive as strangers and leave as family."
Donna, Host Friend:
"We met our first international student, Ali, from Egypt, in August of 2011. Because of his Islamic faith, and the tensions between our country and the Middle East, Ali had requested 'an open-minded American family'.
In Egypt, where 88 million people live on 4% of the land, Ali was amazed at our open spaces. On the way from the Eau Claire airport to Chippewa Falls, he asked, 'Where are all the cars?' And when we spent Christmas at our family farm in Mondovi, he couldn't get his head around the fact that my sister lives alone on a 360 acre farm. After a walking tour where we saw the horses, cattle, and the tractor, he walked into the house and said, 'Jan, you live in paradise'. In the spring we returned to the farm where he rode a horse, a four wheeler, and the tractor.
Ali had an internship, so we didn't see him as much as we wished. He very much wanted to see the Mall of America, because in Egypt he learned that the Statue of Liberty was in New York and the Mall of America was in Minnesota. We took him and a Ukrainian friend there after Christmas.
After Ali returned to Egypt, he emailed that he missed us. I was moved by what he said next; 'You colored my world with crayons of happiness."
Rick, Host Friend:
To Our Pakistani daughter, Rabia:
I'm glad we had the chance to meet
even though it was brief
I tried to show you a thing or two
and had to remind you to wear your shoes
You did everything that could be done
You even took the Polar Plunge
You taught me a thing or two
And ended up calling me Balloo
I'll remember the campfire at night
And that dog that gave you a fright
I'll remember the times you looked at me With your big brown eyes and said "Balloo I'm hungry too"
Time has come and time has passed
All I can say is it went to fast
Making cookies and candy and sticky buns galore Eating them all making my tummy sore
Travel you took near and far
Some by plane, other by car
Florida, New York and DC too
You even jumped from a plane that's true
Rabia your parents must be proud of you
Because we are proud of you too
Thank you for letting us be your hosts
I don't want to brag but we gained the most Now that your stay here with us is done All I can say is It was fun
Now you're home
I hope it's not to stay
But will come back to see us one day
I am glad we had this chance to meet
Rabia you're really sweet
Love Balloo and Tammy too
We'll miss you!
Lois & Earl, Host Friends:
"We are really enjoying our Chinese student, Lavender. We have a daughter in Milwaukee and no grandchildren, so she has made our life more interesting. We have met many good people, who are also hosts. A few of us participated in a Chinese dinner prepared by 4 of the students, plus the host mothers. We ate for 2 hours. What fun! One of the host families invited a few of us for a lefse party, where we all participated in preparing & cooking lefse.
Lavender joined us on a Christmas walk touring 3 houses through the Bateman Methodist Church in the Lake Wissota area. She really enjoyed that. One of the houses had a lovely grand piano. While I was visiting with the owner, Lavender sat down and started playing the beginning of a beautiful concerto. Everyone stopped what they were doing turned off the Christmas music and stood in awe. After a few minutes, she hopped up and said that is all I remember. I haven't played since I was very young. She is such a joy and really adds a lot to our lives. We are hoping to make it to the terracotta soldier exhibit with another host family and student in January.
Lavender plans on continuing her education in Eau Claire for another year and she will remain as part of our family."
Dave & Jody, Host Friends:
International Dinner Nights
"Fall semester 2012, we had the pleasure of hosting Diana from Mexico. During orientation week she met Kevin, Jim, and Jake who were from the Netherlands.
A couple months after being here they were missing food from home, so we offered to buy the food and they could come over and cook. This turned into a wonderful experience for our students and family. Diana cooked us a wonderful Mexican meal, Kevin cooked us an Asian meal, and together they cooked a combo meal. We explored the local Mexican grocery store and Asian store that we had never been in and were treated to a wonderful meal, not to mention the wonderful stories and laughs as these meals were put together and enjoyed.
When it was our turn to cook we opted to take them out to a local restaurant so as not to be shown up!!!"
From the Students:
Yasha, International Student, Sweden:
"It was my first time ever to visit the United States, and I stayed there for one semester studying at UWEC. It is hard coming from another country to know how to act, what to say and how things will be. I received great information about the school, orientation week and campus before I got there. One thing that I also found in my mail was information about a Host Friend Program. I didn't even hesitate to apply for it. It was probably the best thing I've done. Thanks to the Host Friend Program, I now have an extra family, "an American family" that I will stay in touch with, even though I am in my native country. The Host Friend Program helped me and many others to explore American culture, try American food and see how life actually is living with an America family. The best thing is that you stay in touch with your host family through the whole semester. I was so lucky and had the opportunity to travel around and see cities that I would have never seen if I didn't have my host family during that time. I would recommend to all international students that are going to spend time at UWEC, one semester or 4 years, to apply for the host family program. It is a great opportunity for you to explore the culture that you are going to live with and for the family to learn things about your culture."
Ravshan, International Student, Ukbekistan:
"It is wonderful to have a host thousands of miles away from home. Many universities in the U.S.A. do not provide international students with a host. The UW- Eau Claire Host Friend Program is one of the many reasons why I like UW - Eau Claire."
Lisa, International Student, Germany:
Q: When you arrived in Eau Claire, was there something you missed from home that could have been provided?
A: "I didn't miss anything. My Host Friends helped me with items which made my life more convenient like a bike, coffee maker, and hair dryer."
Hanna, International Student, Ethiopia:
"'Selam, greetings from Ethiopia to all the wonderful and nice people I've known during the past two years in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I am Hanna Astawesegn, an international student at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. I've just finished my sophomore year in Business Finance and I have two more years to go. Though I'm quite glad to make it half way through my college years, I'm not eager to graduate and leave Eau Claire behind.
I have developed a very close relationship with my American Host Family. They welcomed me to their home when I first stepped foot in Eau Claire - the same day I arrived in the U.S. for the first time. I could read curiosity and excitement from their faces to learn what my culture is all about.
I haven't been home for almost two years, but I'm grateful to my Host Family who made me feel like I'm home. We have spent so many times together like weekends, birthdays, and holidays. Some of my special moments include: birthday celebrations, cooking with them, staying late for movie night, and playing with the kids. I've also had new American experiences like Easter basket (even though I was too old for this, I had to try it!), shopping at Wal-Mart after midnight (we barely shopped during the day especially last year), Mother's and Father's Day celebration, and first time experience shopping on Black Friday.
During my second school year, they've been hosting another international student from China, Xiuting, who is a close sister to me. She will finish her studies in the U.S. this summer, but the memories and fun times we had together as a big family will last a life time. Being a Host Family/Student is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet new family and friends from different sides of the world that will place unforgettable memories in one's heart. I have enjoyed my stay in Eau Claire and I'm glad to see many people are interested in the Host Family/Friends Program. This shows the willingness of the Eau Claire Community to learn and share different cultures in the world."
Julia, International Student, Austria:
"They made me feel like at home in a country where I have never been before."
Don, International Student, Sri Lanka:
"I never thought of those disastrous words used by many international students, 'HOME SICK', the love and kindness of my Host Family made me wonder, 'Do those words even exist?'
International Student, Denmark:
"They came into my life a little more than 3 months ago and even though I am traveling 6,500 miles back to Denmark, they will still be a part of my life. I cannot thank my Host Parents enough"
International Student, Kenya:
"My host mother has made a very positive contribution to my life. She has sacrificed her time,
patience, and kindness in return for nothing. To be honest, I don't know how I would have survived my first semester without her."
International Student, Columbia:
"When I first arrived, my Host Family not only took me in their home, but they provided me with all the warmth and care that I thought I could only find at home."
International Student, Brazil:
"My Host Friends have been caring, supportive and loving to me. They have treated me as one of their own family, which makes me feel very good."
Celia, International Student, France:
There are not many experiences that could be more intimidating than going to study abroad on your own. Really. There is a mix of extremely strong feelings: the thrill of the adventure and of the unknown; the pride of doing something out of your comfort zone; the excitement to learn a new language and discover a new culture; or the anticipation of making new friends and stepping into a new phase of life. However, as the packing goes on, a little suitcase filled with worries and anxiety often tags along…
Lucky enough, I did not have to think about this too much.I knew that once I would arrive in Minneapolis, MN (straight from Paris, France!), I would not have to figure it out all on my own, but that I would have a support system straight from the beginning. The Fellom family from Chippewa Falls came to pick me up and I was so glad I did not have to face my first Minnesotan/Wisconsinite blizzard alone! They are such genuine and kind-hearted people, and I could sense it from the first handshakes and hugs!
During my four years at UW-Eau Claire, my host family: moved me into my residence hall, invited me to coffee to catch up, and brought me to their home for the weekend. I remember playing softball (I am completely uncoordinated, but it was worth sharing that moment with
them!) and biking around all afternoon with them – honestly, great memories! I started to get extremely involved on campus, and distanced myself a bit, but I know, without a doubt, that if I needed anything any day, they would be right there for me. And funny story – their oldest son, who was a freshman in high school when I arrived in January 2009, just started as a freshman at UW-Eau Claire this Fall!
Now imagine. Not only would all of that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside (really, impacting someone's life is rewarding!), but you would get to know someone from a different part of the
world, hear about a new culture, a new language… I think that one of the exciting parts from a hosts perspective is that you would get to showcase your region, your tradition, your culture – from explaining what a cheesehead is, to taking your student to local events, to showing them how beautiful the Chippewa Valley and Wisconsin are…You will get to rediscover your own home through a different lens!
Thanks to all of you who already participate and who will participate in this program. There are no words to express the gratitude that we have for all you do… Thank you!