Friendship Family Program

The Friendship Family Program (FFP) has played a significant role at Minnesota State University, Mankato for many years. The Friendship Family Program provides support and opportunities for international students by connecting them with Friendship Family volunteers in the community.  

The Spring 2024 Friendship Family Program is accepting applications until Jan 15, 2023. If you would like to join the program after the deadline, we encourage you to mark your calendar for fall semester's program. 

Many international students never set foot in an American home while studying in the United States. This program aims to change that statistic and create space for important cultural exchanges to happen!

Minnesota State, Mankato is home to over 1700 international students from 100+ countries around the world. The Friendship Family Program hopes to give international students a sense of belonging in Mankato and help them feel more connected to their adopted hometown.

Students and volunteers interested in the program can apply each semester to participate in the Friendship Family Program. Kearney Center staff match one to three international students with American volunteers based on the information prospective participants provide in their applications.

Friendship Family Application for students and families
Go to Program Events

Participant Expectations: 

Mankato Community Volunteers 

  • Be a friend. Learning a new culture can be challenging. Treat them as you would want to be welcomed in a new place.
  • Be an Ambassador for our community. Share about resources and opportunities that might be helpful.
  • Be a Learner. Look up your student’s country and ask them lots of questions!
  • Plan to commit to one semester of participation in the Friendship Family Program.
  • Contact your assigned student within the first week of receiving their contact information. 
  • Initiate at least two meetings in person between you and your student(s). 
  • Plan to have a monthly connection – could be text, call, an in-person meeting or sending a note.

International Students 

  • Be a friend. This is a great place to learn about developing cross-cultural friendships!
  • Engage with your partner. Don’t hesitate to ask your partner questions and feel free to invite your partner to activities.
  • Represent your culture. Share stories about home - take this partnership as an opportunity to share the pride you have in your home country!
  • Commit to one semester of participation in the Friendship Family Program. 
    • Respond to your partner’s initial contact within 48 hours of receiving. 
  • Plan to have a monthly connection (text, call, in-person meeting, sending a note) You should expect at least two in-person meetings.

What participants are saying:

"My wife and I feel it would be a good opportunity to give back along with giving us an opportunity to learn of other cultures. We also are very excited for the opportunity to give our children the same opportunity to learn. We are a close family and maybe can provide someone a sense of family even while being so far from home." (local family)

"I hope to be part of family where I can share my culture and life experiences while learning about theirs. More so, even if I have come so far from my home in order to pursue my higher education, it would be lovely to have people I will hopefully one day call my family around me." (MSU international student)

Program Events 

Friendship Family Kick-off Events 

Warm Welcome, January 4 from 6-7:30 pm at Hosanna Highland Church by Minnesota State Mankato. We'll be giving away blankets and other winter accessories to welcome our new orientation group of 100+ international students. We plan to have homemade treats, warm drinks and an opportunity for families and students to naturally connect. If you'd be interested in joining this event or in providing treats or winter gear to give away, please contact

Fun & Games, COMING SOON in the Minnesota State Mankato Centennial Student Union Bull Pen. Students and families can connect over pizza, bowling, billiards and other games. More to come on this event!

What FFP is not intended for: 

  • A means of financial support. Under no circumstances may students ask for money from their friendship family. 
  • Immigration or academic advising or a means to sponsorship.
  • Providing housing. Students should NOT move into the home of their assigned family. 
  • Students may stay overnight at a Friendship Family’s home if invited for a holiday, special event, or overnight trip.

Please reach out to the Kearney International Center at Minnesota State Mankato if you have any questions or concerns about the program.

Friendship Family Coordinator

Kristin Odland (Go to Contact Information)