Be Part of The Friendship Families Program of Laramie
Despite being a small town, Laramie is nationally diverse. This Fall we will have many new international students attending the University of Wyoming, and many of these students would love to participate in the Friendship Families Program - a volunteer non-live-in host family program that matches local Laramie families with international students for the purpose of friendship and understanding.
We would love for YOU to participate in the program as well!
What is The Friendship Families Program of Laramie?
The Friendship Families Program of Laramie was started over 20 years ago by Marian and Jim Erdelyi as a social action item with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laramie. This is a national program that was developed when it was realized that over 75% of international students never saw the inside of an American household.
The students and the families have gained such great insight into each other’s cultures, and many have kept up these friendships as the student moves back home.
Leann Naughton, coordinator of the Friendship Families of Laramie said that “my family has hosted students from China, Japan, Cambodia, England, France, Sweden, and Ecuador. We had the incredible opportunity to see our first French student from 2004 and our second student from Sweden in 2005 during a European trip in 2019!”
How many students will you be hosting?
According to Naughton, the program might have about 35 students this year after having a few years of hiatus due to Covid. Some families do take more than one student, but they are typically paired with one to two students per family.
Who can participate?
“Our definition of “Family” is very loose – we would love to have anyone who would like to be involved, whether they be single or in a committed relationship, with children or without,” Naughton added.
The program surveys both the students and families to link the interests of each to make the best possible match.
Activities are based on the interests of the students and the families. These could be playing board games, going to movies or dinners, going skating or skiing, or to plays or sports events.
It is a very flexible program, where they only ask for a minimum of once per month contact that could be as simple as a phone call or an e-mail. Most students and families really hit it off and maintain a life-long friendship.
While many students are only here for a semester or year, there are some that are here for the full 4 years or so, and maintaining those relationships is so much fun. Thus, having families that are open to meeting new students each year is incredibly helpful. However, it is the first year that is critical to developing these friendships to help combat culture shock and depression.
How to participate?
If you would like to host an international student, please contact Leann Naughton by August 30 at 307 745 0747 or email@example.com for an application form.