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New Lend-and-Loan Program Created for International Students

RELEASED: May 5, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — A new group has formed in the Eau Claire community to assist international students who are studying at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Friends Across Borders will launch its first project May 8 when members begin collecting items for their newly created lend-and-loan closet. International students coming to campus in the fall will be invited to borrow items from the closet for the time they are here.

International students who are returning to their home countries can leave things such as blankets, microwaves, silverware and other items that would be difficult for them to take with them. The students — and anyone else who wants to donate to the project — can drop off items 4-7 p.m. May 8 at Katherine Thomas Hall on lower campus and Oak Ridge Hall on upper campus.

"The project was originally designed for current international students to pass on their items to the next set of students, since we know international students have more cause to leave their items behind, due to luggage constraints, when going home," said Kathryn Hurd, community outreach coordinator for the Center for International Education. "However, we will take items from anyone, as our goal is to have a closet with enough items and options to be of practical use to the next incoming group of international students."

Like any other college-bound student, international students need to outfit their dorm rooms with the necessities for university life, Hurd said. But luggage constraints mean they cant bring many items with them, she said.

"After purchasing and using items during their time of study, these same luggage constraints also mean they can't take them home," Hurd said. "The lend-and-loan closet will reduce the need for incoming students to purchase items they may only use for a semester, while allowing departing students to pass on their gently-used possessions to a group of people who will benefit from them. Its a win-win situation."

The lend-and-loan project was created after Friends Across Borders surveyed international students to determine their needs, said Hurd.

Other projects the group has discussed are an international student job-shadow day at local businesses, a cultural celebration event, and a bike project to make bicycles easier for international students to access since most don't own a car here, said Hurd, noting that the group currently has 12 members. As international student needs are discovered, and Friends Across Borders further develops, they will consider other programs and projects.

Friends Across Borders members hope more community members join the group, Hurd said, noting it's a way for the community members to share their background and resources.

"Friends Across Borders is an excellent way for residents in the Chippewa Valley to get a taste of the world outside of their everyday lives," Hurd said. "More than that, it is a chance to contribute to global relations and assist international students with their adjustment to and enjoyment of Eau Claire and the United States. International students have to adapt not only to a new school, but new customs, a foreign language, and make new friends and connections. Friends Across Borders is a way to ease these transitions."

The international students also have much to offer Eau Claire — a rich diversity, new perspectives, and the opportunity for friendship that can span the globe, Hurd said.

"For those who may have wished to have the opportunity to connect with the international students living in Eau Claire, this is an ideal opportunity to become involved," Hurd said. "Friends Across Borders wants to make a difference in the lives of the international residents of the area. Fostering these relationships will benefit our long-time residents as well."

For more information about the lend-and-loan project or to join the Friends Across Borders group, contact Kathryn Hurd at 715-836-4411 or hurdka@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB

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