Oct. 15-28, 2004
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IN THIS ISSUE
'Tremendous,' 'Smart,' 'Pragmatic'
Access UVa: The door's open
University presidents make the case for charter
Digest
Insurance costs going up, but health coverage to expand
Ann Lee Brown gives $10.5 million to U.Va.
Board in tune with U.Va.-Wise, thanks to Smiddy
Faculty Actions from the October BOV meeting
Thanks to Charlottesville families
Film festival examines reel 'Speed'
NYT columnist, others, to discuss election

Whiteness exhibit to open its only East Coast showing

Gies to speak at fall program
Taking stock of Virginia mountain streams

 

Thanks to Charlottesville families
Program celebrates 40 years of making international students feel at home

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.

“They 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.”

Volunteers?

The International Center is still seeking local families interested in hosting international students for this year’s 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 her 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.

“The 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 homes to 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.

This month marks the 40th nniversary of the International Host Programs, the parent organization for the Community Host Program.

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 scholars to Charlottesville.

Events for International
Education Week 2004

Nov. 15-19
Study Abroad Open House
Minor Hall 216

Nov. 15-19
International Student Volunteer Days
Local service organizations

Nov. 15-20
World Film Series
Newcomb Hall Theater and other sites

Nov. 17, 7 p.m.
Keynote Speaker, John Hager, former Lt. Gov. of Virginia, “The Value of International Education to the University and the
Commonwealth”
Newcomb Hall Theater

Nov. 17, 8 p.m.
Recognition Reception for Community and University ESL Teachers and Volunteers

Newcomb Hall Theater Foyer

For 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 Administration. The 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 U.Va., 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.

International students’ English 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 misunderstandings.

“Our 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 have signed up
to serve as community hosts for 134 international students (many families help more than one student).

The 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 board and a host family.

“ 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 have been notified of their acceptance to U.Va. The timing allows families to contact students before they leave home to introduce themselves and welcome the students to Charlottesville. For the students, connecting 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 interviews with students who 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.”


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