The International Friendship Program (IFP), sponsored by the University of Houston's Office of International Student and Scholar Services, is now celebrating its 49th year of matching UH international students and scholars with area families for a once a month visit with each other. Both short-term scholars and long-term students are welcome to participate. The IFP provides international students and scholars exposure to American culture by opportunities to visit American homes while studying at UH. These unique partnerships also provide internationals opportunities for off-campus activities.
The events enjoyed most by internationals with their American friends include the Houston rodeo, sporting events, and visiting Houston homes. Annual IFP festivities include a night of fun and games in October, also known as October Fun Night, and the annual mid-July Appreciation Luncheon here on campus.
The relationships built between area families and UH's international community can last long after the student/scholar has completed their program at UH. Several IFP Houston families have visited their international students at their countries of origin after graduation. In fact, the longest continuing international friendship in the program is between a South Korean couple and a Houstonian couple which began in 1972, shortly after the IFP began. That's 46 years of international friendship and counting!
If you are a new or continuing international student/scholar at the University of Houston and are interested in learning more about IFP, please email Melissa Aylward, IFP Coordinator.
What is it?
For the UH International Student willing and able to take the time once a month to meet with a Houston family, married couple, or single, the University of Houston's International Friendship Program offers an opportunity for you to become friends with an American family and to enrich your educational experience in the United States.
Can I see some friendship program photographs?
To see IFP Photos to go to the photographs showing matched up Houston area families and international students.
For the longest-ongoing international friendship (so far!) in the program.
Meet the couple who, currently, has been 'matched' with the greatest number of students in the Friendship Program.
For quotes from previously matched international students in the Friendship Program.
To read an International Educator magazine article that featured the University of Houston International Student Friendship Program.
For photos of Houston families who have visited their UH international students after the students returned to their home country.
Who is involved?
Because the international students are typically single and are surrounded 24/7 by similar-age single roommates, single classmates, and single workmates, they enjoy being matched with Houston area families with kids, married couples, empty-nester couples, retired couples, and retired females.
By inviting you, the international student, to their homes and sharing family activities with you, they help you enjoy cultural opportunities and visit different places in the city. New students are given priority because they need more assistance in learning about Houston and in making new friends. Special orientation is required for all participants (students and friendship volunteers).
After I arrive at the University of Houston as a UH International Student, How Do I Sign-up?
Sign-up for IFP to completing the online application form for the International Friendship Program.
If you have questions about the program, you may email Melissa Aylward, the program coordinator, Monday through Friday at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Should I Expect?
You will be given information about your friendship family by mail as soon as an assignment is made. Your family or single person will receive information about you at the same time and will call or write to arrange to meet with you.
Some things a family might do with you for your once a month get together are:
- Have you over for a meal, family birthday celebration or special holidays
- Take you with them to sports or cultural events
Families are encouraged to give you assistance as needed when you first arrive, then see or call you at least once a month. We hope you will stay in touch throughout your stay in America.
What if I have Problems?
If you do not hear from your assigned family/friend, or if you have problems in establishing a Friendship, contact Melissa Aylward.
A Great Experience!
Remember, the International Friendship Program offers a great opportunity for you to make new friends and to enrich your educational and cultural experience in the United States.