Become a Friend to an International Student Studying in Tucson
My name is Bruna and I first came to Tucson in 2014 to teach Portuguese language as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant. As I was going to spend only one academic year at the University of Arizona, International Friends appeared to be the perfect option to help me experience Tucson and American culture fully. My hosts Harold and Nancy welcomed me to their family and, since then, I have felt I have an important support outside my country, Brazil. With their company, I have witnessed beautiful events, such as the family’s Thanksgiving dinner, and visited important sites around Tucson, such as Catalina State Park (awesome for hiking!).
As it is so easy to fall in love with Tucson and the community, I decided to apply for a Ph.D. degree in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching to continue my studies in the University of Arizona and create more memories in Tucson. Fortunately, I was invited to be an IF Student Board Member for Fall 2016 and, since then, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with an amazing group of people. It is an honor to help organize events to enrich international students’ experience in the United States. This way, I would like to replicate all great memories of my first year in every new student’s heart living in Tucson.
I will take the liberty to thank all the Board Members and hosts in the name of the international students who had their lives touched and changed by the IF organization for their tireless effort in organizing so many cultural exchange opportunities.
Organized Activities for Students and Hosts
While most activities shared by hosts and students are planned on an individual basis, International Friends hosts four formal group activities that include both international students students and Tucson volunteers. During the Fall semester, we host a Welcome Luncheon to greet new students and a Fall Picnic for hosts and new students to meet each other. In the Spring semester, we host Welcome Lunches at individual Board members' homes to meet and greet newly arrived students. We conclude our formal activities for the academic year with a Spring Potluck Picnic. However, the individual friendships will hopefully continue for many years to come.
In the Fall semester, a luncheon is held for the incoming undergraduate and graduate students in conjunction with the University‘s orientation program. Attendees also include hosts and representatives from International Student Services. Volunteers bring and help prepare food. This is a great opportunity to meet the new students. While at the luncheon, students are encouraged to sign up for the International Friends program.
Annual Fall Picnic
A picnic is held at the beginning of the fall semester for students and hosts who have signed up to participate in the program that year. Anyone on our mailing list is invited to join the lively conversation. It is traditionally the event for new students to meet their hosts for the first time. Volunteers are needed to welcome guests, contribute to a snack buffet, and help keep the table stocked with food.
In the Spring semester, Welcome Lunches are held at individual Board members' homes for the new incoming undergraduate and graduate students. Attendees also include community hosts. This meet-and-greet event is a great opportunity to meet the new Spring semester students. While at the lunches, students are encouraged to sign up for the International Friends program.
Annual Spring Picnic
Each spring, International Friends hosts an annual Spring Picnic. This event features a multicultural potluck for all students who have been involved in our activities during the year, their hosts, and other community friends. Traditionally held at Reid Park, this event also features music, games, and competitions.
What Our Students Say...
“I had a good time at the UA and in Tucson, but the best experience was with my International Friends family. In fact, it was like family away from home. I recommend International Friends for all international students!”
“Where to start….New country….New environment…New culture…New people…away from family…but here in University of Arizona you got International Friends…a family...home away from home…hosts you can count on…understand new culture in better way.”
“Sometimes my host cooked some American meal for me and sometimes I cooked some Korean food for him. We talked and shared cultural things about both countries. I learned so many things about the culture of the US from him. He always let me know about the idioms that I am not familiar with but anxious to learn about, such as “play it by ear” and “wiggle room.”
“When I came I wanted to know more about Tucson and the people who stay here. Moreover, I wanted a friend/mentor who can guide me. Throughout the year, I have seen many parts of Arizona with my hosts, eaten different types of cuisine and most importantly got to hear their stories of world travel. Hearing about their experiences inspires me to do a world trip.”