Being part of the International Friendship Program is a great way for you and your family to gain a new level of understanding about yourselves and your own country. Being a friend to international students gives you a window on the world through the medium of friendship – friendship which can lead to letters, travel, and new horizons. 

International Friendship Program Application [PDF]

Activity Ideas:

  • Have the student over for a home-cooked meal
  • Telephone the student occasionally to learn how she/he is getting along
  • Share both every day and special family experiences such as picnics, getting and decorating a Christmas tree, hiking, sledding, relaxing at home, planting a garden
  • Take students to special places and events in our community such as Mabel Tainter Theater or the 4th of July at Wakanda Park
  • Have the student cook a meal from his/her native country and share pictures and artifacts from home.
  • Help the student to shop around Menomonie

You can be as involved as you want to be. Do as much or as little as you are able to. Being a friend does not involve a live-in situation; your student will live in an apartment or dormitory.

Be yourselves! The students are interested in learning about how Americans live, so do what you always do. Involve children or grandchildren if you have them; it is often easier for the visitor to relax first with them because of their openness and enthusiasm. Show interest in the student’s country, family and customs. They also enjoy sharing such information!

Most international students come from very different religious backgrounds than we do. Many are not Christian. While discussing and sharing information about each other’s religious beliefs and practices can be interesting and informative, it is important to respect the student’s religious beliefs. One should not befriend international students for the purpose of changing their religious beliefs. 

Being a Friend:

  • Maintain contact with the student at least once per month during the student’s first semester at UW-Stout.
  • Contact the Office of International Education (OIE) if you can no longer continue the relationship.
  • Inform the OIE to changes in your household including people, pets and the like

Friends are not expected to:

  • Provide housing for extended periods of time (i.e. academic breaks).
  • Provide housing for the student’s visitors or family members.
  • Pick up the student at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.
  • Assist with academic or health problems.

Friends should not:

  • Loan money to the student.
  • Assist with visa or immigration questions.

Refer the student to the Office of International Education if those kinds of problems arise. The local friend should not give the student money for anything unless she/he truly desires to do so. And never loan money which you are not prepared to lose graciously. International students are often unable to repay loans or misunderstand loans as gifts. In any event, it’s best to handle financial affairs through the Office of International Education


It was a wonderful time with Julia, our student from Germany! We traveled to Madeline Island, Mall of America, Mississippi river towns and so much more!

~ Patty Engler