Missoula International Friendship Program
Missoula International Friendship Program
Through the International Friendship Program, both year-long and semester-long "friendship matches" are arranged between foreign students attending the university and local residents, called Community Friends. As much as possible, matches are made based on similar interests. Throughout the friendship match, Community Friends and international students learn about one another's culture while sharing leisure and family activities. This program does not involve home-stays, just occasional get-togethers.
The friendship that develops between you and your student will depend upon the interests of each of you. As you begin to know one another better, the relationship will establish its own direction. Just relax and be comfortable. No need to worry - your student will already speak English. The student will want to experience day-to day American life, so just include the student in what you normally do. Soon you'll also find you have plenty of things to talk about as you explore each other's cultures.
You may find that you share an interest in sports, cultural events, outdoor activities, or cooking, or that each of you prefers to meet for coffee once in a while and just talk. The emphasis is on including the student in normal activities that you do anyway, rather than on creating special events. Your student, and thus you, will find excitement in ordinary things like trying American food. Students also enjoy typical "American" and/or "Montanan" activities that they've never tried at home, i.e. carving a pumpkin, throwing a fishing line, participating in a holiday celebration, attending a local cultural event, going caroling, or learning about American football at a Griz game. Of course, for those so inclined, exploring local or regional points together is always a welcome outing for the student.
Yes! We encourage individual community members as well as families to join the program.
In the past, we have had some excellent Community Friends from outside of Missoula serve in the program. If you live in a community outside of Missoula, we welcome your participation, as long as you're - quite literally - willing to go the "extra mile".
The formal match between Community Friend and student lasts one year or a semester (if the student is here on a short-term exchange). Of course, you may wish to continue your friendship after that. During your friendship match, we ask that you spend time with your student at least once a month.
The students studying at the University of Montana hail from all over the world, and if you have an interest in meeting a student from a particular country, we will certainly try to arrange that. Many of our students come from Asian countries, with smaller numbers coming from Europe, former "eastern Europe", Africa, Middle East, Latin America and Oceania. On the sign-up sheet, you may indicate any preference you may have as to geographical region or gender. But please don't hesitate to get to know someone from a culture you are unfamiliar with. We will provide you with a very useful "Culturgram" handout with information on your student's country and culture, as well as an orientation meeting with helpful hints.
Normally, host-student matches are made a couple of weeks after the beginning of both Fall and Spring Semesters. You can expect to meet your student around mid-September for fall semester matches and late January for spring semester matches. As there are often students on a waiting list, however, it is quite probable that we can assign a student to you during most other times of the year as well, if you prefer to start sooner.
The executive board of MIFP in conjunction with Foreign Student & Scholar Services at the University of Montana offers an orientation for new Community Friends, followed soon by a reception to introduce students and hosts. MIFP also provides advice and support throughout the friendship match and schedules several group social events throughout the year. Anytime you have a question throughout the match, please feel free to call us!
The MIFP board coordinates and plans social and educational activities for students and hosts, organizes fund-raisers for the program, and offers some special events for students, such as welcome dinners and field-trips. If you are interested in volunteering for these activities, or have ideas for any activities, please give us a call. You may also apply for vacancies on the executive board of MIFP. We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated board members to help us run the organization, so please inquire if you might want to get involved at the leadership level. In addition, we are always grateful for donations to the program, if you can contribute in that way. We are a non-profit organization, so donations are tax deductible.
To sign-up to become a Community Friend, please apply online or complete the application form and return to the address indicated on the form. Your timely response is appreciated and will greatly aid our planning efforts. Once we receive the form, we will put you in the program file for the next upcoming semester program. Then you'll soon be on your way to a rewarding experience with a new international friend! Your sincere, kind efforts toward making a foreign student feel at home in Montana will be an important contribution toward inter-cultural friendship and understanding.
Questions may be directed to the Foreign Student & Scholar Services at The University of Montana at 243-2226.
Questions? Contact our current president: