Community Friends Program
The Community Friends Program (formerly known as the Friendship Family Program) matches AES students, who are here to learn English, with Americans for fun, friendship, and wider cultural understanding. Students from Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East have the chance to practice their English, learn more about American culture, and gain new perspectives on their own way of life. They experience how families and individuals live in the USA, have a chance to get off campus, and are able to meet people of other age groups. The Americans involved get a chance to learn more about similarities and differences in customs and traditions, be an ambassador for Portland, and maybe get a chance to practice a few words in another language!
What do the Americans and international students do together?
Portland offers a huge choice of things to do—many activities are free or very inexpensive. For example:
- participate in group activities, such as a pumpkin carving party, an end of summer picnic, or a board game afternoon;
- invite your student to participate in your holiday traditions or family birthday celebrations;
- go for a hike;
- have a family game night;
- take a short day trip to the beach or the mountains;
- ask your student to share their culture with you;
- take advantage of the sports and cultural activities at Lewis & Clark and in Portland;
- check out a DVD from the library;
- participate in a volunteer activity together;
- make popcorn or brownies at home;
- watch a child’s sports event or school play;
- have dinner at home or a picnic in the park;
- shop at the farmer’s market or Saturday Market.
The Community Friends Program is:
- not a homestay—most students live on campus in a residence hall.
- not very time-consuming—students and families get together when they both have free time; usually once or twice a month.
- optional—students do not have take part in the program, especially if they spend free time with friends or relatives in the Portland area. But this program gives international students a chance to find out how Americans really live (not as they are shown on TV or in the movies)!
What do the students and volunteers have to say about the program?
From our coastline in Seaside, Oregon to Tokyo Japan! I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to host a Lewis & Clark student from Japan this last year. We were able to cook together, play together, shop together and just get to know each other. We were also thankful that we could take it to the next level! Last May, Misaki returned home and I was able to join her to play together, shop together and eat together in her city, Tokyo. (Click the link above to see photos.)
- The program is full of new experiences and great people.
- We have had a wonderful time…and hope to share Portland with more amazing students.
- They want to show us the values and traditions Americans have and help us accommodate more easily here.
- We volunteered to be a (Community Friend) because we were excited for the opportunity to expose our children to other cultures. It has been fun for them. Our student became like a big brother to them and our family plans to visit him in his home country some day.
- The program is absolutely wonderful.
- One of the best moments for my wife and myself was when we realized that we had stopped introducing our (Community Friend) student with the full explanation and just started introducing him as our friend.
- It’s easy for me to spend the time with them like a true family.
Being a (Community Friend) is a great excuse to make it to campus regularly and a wonderful way to stay in touch with Lewis & Clark events. We still feel connected to campus life, feel comfortable there, and think fondly of our lives at LC as students. Befriending LC International students has given us friends in many different countries and makes us feel connected to the world — all through our alma mater.
How can I sign up for the Community Friends Program?
Students are given a form to fill out during their first few days at Lewis & Clark. On it they list information about themselves and what they like to do. Then they are introduced to an individual or family with similar interests during the first few weeks of the semester. Students can request a Community Friend here.
If you are a family, a single person, or a couple (with or without children) in the Portland area who would like to be a Community Friend to an international student, please fill out the form here. We always welcome more volunteers!
For more information, please contact:
Laura Mundt, Community Friends Program Coordinator
phone: (503) 380-1778
fax: (503) 768-7320
0615 SW Palatine Hill Road,
Portland, OR 97219