Program celebrates 40 years of making international students feel
By Charlotte Crystal
In the mid-1960s, a young Turkish couple stumbled into
Lucy Hale’s office
and collapsed, exhausted, onto their bulging, rope-strapped suitcases.
had been traveling for days,” Hale said. “They needed everything.
They had no housing, no U.S. currency, nothing to eat, no idea how to register
for classes and no where else to turn.”
International Center is still seeking local families
interested in hosting international students for this
Thanksgiving dinner. Hosts for the Thanksgiving Meal
Match Program may sign up through Nov. 15.
To volunteer, or for
more information, call Judy Saulle at 924-7983.
They rested for a couple of hours, then at lunchtime,
Hale locked the door of the fledgling international
studies office and took the couple to the
University Cafeteria on the Corner where she bought them fried chicken
and yogurt. On
return, she called Dr. Kenneth Heatwole, a physician at the Blue Ridge
Santorium. She knew that Heatwole and his family
were Mennonite, a group that prides
itself on offering hospitality to strangers. With one phone call, Hale
was able to
put the new arrivals into good hands.
experience made me realize that I needed a telephone tree,” she said,
and worked to put in place a list of contacts that could be activated with a
single phone call.
That was how the Community Host Program got its start. Since
then, families in Charlottesville and the surrounding
area have opened their hearts and
international students. Each year, families welcome a new group of students,
and help them find housing (host families don’t provide housing), take
them shopping, guide them around Central Virginia’s historical sites and
invite them for backyard barbecues and holiday meals.
month marks the 40th nniversary of the International Host Programs,
the parent organization for the Community Host
Other IHP outreach efforts include offering
assistance to visiting research scholars, providing local drivers
to help students run occasional errands and hosting
a women’s group for spouses of international
faculty and married students. Local volunteers run the IHP as an independent
group affiliated with the University’s Lorna
Sundberg International Center, which is designed to welcome international students and visiting
Education Week 2004
Study Abroad Open House
Minor Hall 216
International Student Volunteer Days
Local service organizations
World Film Series
Newcomb Hall Theater and other sites
17, 7 p.m.
Keynote Speaker, John Hager, former Lt. Gov. of Virginia, “The
Value of International Education to the University and the
Newcomb Hall Theater
17, 8 p.m.
Recognition Reception for Community and University ESL Teachers and Volunteers
Hall Theater Foyer
more details check www.virginia.edu/iso/ic/iew.html
IHP will celebrate its anniversary on Oct. 24, which is also
United Nations Day, in Saunders Hall at the Darden Graduate
School of Business
event is open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. and will include reminiscences
and comments by various program beneficiaries.
The International Center and its programs have grown considerably
since the center’s
founding in 1972, as the number and needs of
international students and faculty at U.Va. have increased, said
Suzanne Louis, director. In 1960, only 55 foreign students attended
most of whom were
graduate students. In recent years, the University’s enrollment has grown
to include about 2,000 foreign students and visiting scholars — roughly
10 percent of the student body — split evenly between undergraduate and
graduate programs, according to the University’s Office of Institutional
Assessment and Studies.
language abilities vary and their lives can be stressful as they
try to fit into a new culture and perform well academically.
Hale recalled a murder-suicide decades ago that resulted from
a failed love affair between an Asian student and an American student,
exacerbated by cultural
programs fill a serious need,” Louis said.
Every year, about 500 new international students arrive in
the city. This year, more than 100 Charlottesville families
to serve as community hosts for 134 international students
(many families help more than one student).
benefits are more than just having extra hands on moving day or
wheels to get around town, said
Cathy von Storch, president of the International Host Programs
and a host
The Community Host Program provides opportunities for students to get out into
the community and meet American families so they’re not just treading on
the surface of American life, “ von Storch said. “It enables them
to have a deeper connection with American society.”
The staff of the International Center matches students
with compatible local families in the spring, after students
of their acceptance
to U.Va. The timing
allows families to contact students before they leave
home to introduce themselves and welcome the students
with a family can be a life-changing experience.
While she served as director of the International Student
Affairs Office, Hale said she routinely conducted exit
had participated in the Community Host Program as they
prepared to graduate
and return home.
One year, she spoke with a Catholic Palestinian from
Israel. “I asked him what
he had gained from the University and our program and what he would miss,” Hale
said. “I asked him which faculty members had been most important to him.
He said the most important people in his life here had been his host family,” Hale
said. “He had been placed with a Jewish family. He told me it was an experience
he never would have had if he hadn’t come here. That experience changed
a cultural stereotype for that young man. I don’t think you can be more
fortunate than that.”