This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Vassar’s International Students Find a Home Away From Home

Every year, the International Student Host Program connects incoming freshmen and exchange students from foreign countries with a mentor in the Vassar community. “[The host] serves as an informal resource in the area,” said Director of International Services Andrew Meade. “They are familiar with the campus community as well as the greater Poughkeepsie area and can show the student around.”

For the program’s first event of the year, students and their hosts meet for dinner in the Villard Room at the end of new student orientation. The Office of International Services organizes a handful of events for students and hosts throughout the year, including apple picking in the fall, a potluck brunch during Freshmen Parents’ Weekend, and an international dessert cook-off for Kaleidoscope, a multicultural festival that takes place during International Education Week.

But as the year goes on, “it’s up to the families and students,” said Meade. “We encourage them to get together, whether it’s for coffee or watching TV at the host family’s house, hiking, visiting Rhinebeck or New Paltz.”

Seventy-five international and exchange students are participating in the program in 2007–08; this year, the program was extended to include language and research fellows.

Meade sees the program as being mutually beneficial. “Some of these students are coming here from a very different culture for the first time, and it’s helpful to have someone who can explain how everyday life works here,” he said. “For hosts, they get a glimpse into the life of a student, as well as another culture. It’s cross-cultural understanding for all parties.”

January 2008

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