Have you ever considered how lonely it would feel to move to another country, learn a new culture, study in a different language, eat strange foods, and be so far away from your family?
Right now, the "honeymoon" phase of coming to a new place is ending as hundreds of international students here in Fayetteville are beginning to face this difficult reality and the homesickness is hitting hard! Recently, three of my dear friends shared how last weekend, all weekend long, their phones never buzzed, and they felt so alone.
This is why the University's I-Friend Program is so amazing--it matches American families or American upperclassmen college students with an international student for the year. Actually, the I-Friend Program was how I really began spending time with international friends! The goal is for them to invite their student to come over or go do something at least once a month. It is an awesome picture of how God sets the solitary in families, even for seasons! Every year, there are always far more students who desire to get matched with a family then there are families available to match them with, which is a sad reality.
My hope was that as I got to meet with families (specifically from my church body), and share more about international students and their desire to do life with Americans, that more families who had never participated in the I-Friend program would give it a try!
Two weeks ago I received an email from the international office at the U of A saying, “Hi Courtney, thanks to your efforts, we actually have more American hosts then international students this year! Since you know so many of the hosts and students this year, we would love for you to come and help us match them this week.”
|Meet Ameel (to my right!), one of my new I-friend |
"daughters" this year from Morocco!
Ya’ll, every year we have too many students and not enough host families to match them with—this is HUGE! Wow!
What an incredible picture of the body of Christ catching a vision and running with it. University Baptist Church now has a reputation with the University as being a people who are willing to meet a practical need to the glory of the Father! We have gotten to bless the University and invite these students from Macedonia, Brazil, Morocco, Korea Iraq, etc. to sit at our dinning-room tables and hang out with our families.
Not to mention, there was SO MUCH favor in the University inviting me to come help match, because it enabled me to hand-pick students I’ve gotten to get to know and match them with many UBC families, even with many of you who are now welcoming them into your homes! Last week three different international students came to UBC for the first time, with their I-friend families! Even today, another student came for the first time with his campus cousin! I'm SO excited to see how God continues to reveal Himself to these students, even as we consider them more significant then ourselves!
If you’re local and still interested in being matched with a student, a whole new group of internationals arrive in January! How awesome would it be to once again have more host families then students to match them with?!
|Meet Lorrene from Brazil! One of two new students I got |
matched with this year through the I-Friend Program!