Weber State’s welcome plan

A festive Autumn wreath hanging on the entrance door to the Department of Student Involvement and Leadership.

The International Student & Scholars Center is launching a Friendship Family Program to connect incoming international students with Weber State University faculty and staff members.

WSU has a large population of international students who attend the university, and the goal of FFP is to provide assistance to students as they navigate through their educational path.

“As of Fall 2022, we have 313 international students. They come from 70 different countries,“ Shannon Sandau, Internationalization Specialist for the ISSC, said.

While FFP has not started, Elizabeth Hammond, assistant director of International Admission & Recruiting, said that they are pushing to get the program running for students.

“We are now seeking applicants to be able to set up the program,” Hammond said.

Hammond will be hosting an information session via Zoom on Nov. 22 at noon for faculty members to learn more about the program.

The idea is for staff members to be able to assist with any questions an international student may have and offer an opportunity for staff and students to attend events the FFP program hosts together.

Hammond said that holidays celebrated in the United States may be different from what international students may celebrate.

”In the past years, we hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner for our international students on campus the week of Thanksgiving,” Billie Atsitty De Paiva, sponsored student advisor for the ISSC, said. “We sometimes have some families that are close with the university that open their homes to them on Thanksgiving day. This year, due to the food shortage of turkeys, it is not possible.”

Hammond shared her hopes for the FFP program and her experience with being in a similar program during her education in the United States.

“We are asking our faculty and staff to open themselves to our international students and just be a friend to our international students who left all their family members back home,” Hammond said. “The hope is for more students to feel more welcome here.”

The FFP program hopes to be able to create similar events bringing international students and their host families together.

At this time, the program is looking toward partnering international students with faculty and staff members only, but there is room for the program to expand in the future.

“We wanted to throw a lifeline to international students, and we felt a program like this would be one good way to do that,” Hammond said.