Friendship Family Program

The Friendship Family Program (FFP) provides support and opportunities designed to assist international students during their adjustment period by connecting them with Friendship Family volunteers in the community.

Program goals include:

  • Allow international students to develop off-campus friendships
  • Experience the "American way of life" within homes, families & the community
  • Share cultures and traditions between family and students
  • Develop lifelong relationships across the globe. Students can spend time with their friendship families as often as once a week, once a month, to a couple of times a semester.

Already know you want to participate? Sign up now!

Family Sign Up

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International students make up about 10 percent of Minnesota State Mankato’s total enrollment and come from approximately 90 countries around the world.

The Friendship Family Program aims to give international students a sense of belonging in Mankato and help them feel more connected to their adopted hometown. The program strives to facilitate global engagement among the Mankato community to help everyone gain a more sophisticated global perspective.

Program Objectives

  • Foster positive intercultural relationships between new international students and Mankato community members.
  • Encourage more understanding and adjustment to the “American way of life” within homes, families and the community.
  • Provide important social support for and extend hospitality to international students during their initial adjustments to life in Minnesota.
  • Supplement the Kearney Center’s support services for international students (Kearney Center offers immigration advising, document processing, and orientation programming).
  • Offer all students an opportunity to learn about new cultures and how to communicate in a diverse society.
  • Raise international awareness, promote international education and contribute to the university’s comprehensive internationalization efforts.

Who Can Participate

The Friendship Family Program matches one to three international students with their Mankato Community volunteer. Mankato Community “families” can be any type of family! We only ask that you live close enough to Minnesota State Mankato to physically meet with your student, and that you approach this relationship with an open mind and heart.

Families could include:

  • Married couples
  • Unmarried couples
  • Single Person
  • Families with children
  • Same-sex couples
  • Families of any religion
  • Families originally from the U.S.
  • Families originally from other countries
  • Anyone over the age of 18 who is interested in sharing their life in Mankato with an international student!

How It Works

Students and volunteers interested in the program apply online to participate in the Friendship Family Program. The application deadlines vary by semester, but are typically set about two weeks after the beginning of each semester. Kearney Center staff match one to three international students with American volunteers based on the information prospective participants provide in their applications. Staff take areas of study, hobbies and interests and other preferences into consideration when matching pairs.

The program encourages partners to spend time with one another by hosting events and suggesting activities, but it is the participants’ responsibility to take advantage of these opportunities. Program participants are asked to make time to meet during the semester, attend Friendship Family events together and other casual commitments.

What Participants Say…

  • “Being in the Friendship Family Program was a great experience. I learned a lot from my family about the culture in the United States and they also learned about life in my country.” – Ivory Coast
  • “I personally appreciate FFP for providing opportunities, which can reduce stress of international students and leave a good impression of the US with them after they go back to their home countries.” – Afghanistan
  • “Sharing our family life with international students is a rewarding learning experience on both sides. We meet them as strangers and they soon become part of our family and many remain lifelong friends.” – Mankato Community volunteers
  • “Our lives have been greatly enriched by international students as we have known them, worked with them and enjoyed entertainment and social times with them over our many years here. It has been rewarding to learn more and more about the great, wide world in which we all live together and the wonderful, interesting, loving people with whom we share it.” – Mankato Community volunteers 

Apply to Join

Students: having a friendship family while you are studying abroad can enhance your experience immensely! You may find how much it means to have a local family who cheers you when you are homesick; takes you to local sites to see the area; teaches you more about American culture; and perhaps invites you for a meal and a movie. It is simple things that you may miss doing with your family, that may help you adjust more easily here. Students apply here.

Community volunteers: the benefits to you will also be great! Befriending international students is profoundly interesting; allows you to receive more accurate information about other cultures and countries; provides opportunities for your family and friends to grow in their knowledge of the world; and of course, make a valuable friendship that may become life long! Community members apply here!

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