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International Programs
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-2026

Release: Immediate

Friends of International Students picnic scheduled for Sept. 14

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- International students at the University of Iowa look to a group of local residents to make them feel welcome and to show them the ropes in their new home in Iowa. These residents -- through a program called Friends of International Students (FIS) -- volunteer to spend time with the students -- having dinner together, going to a movie, or just getting together to chat.

About 55 international students at the UI are now waiting to be matched with American friends, and the Friends of International Students picnic Sunday, Sept. 14 will be their first opportunity.

Those who are interested in learning more about FIS are invited to the picnic from noon to 4 p.m. at Shelter 11 in Lower City Park. At that time, unmatched students will be present as well as international students already matched and their friends.

"The picnic is a great way for people to meet international students and be matched at the picnic," says Claire Cardwell, an international student advisor and FIS liaison.

Each friend is to bring a dish to share with everyone. Those who have a large family and are matched with many students are asked to bring more than one dish. FIS will provide the drinks.

According to Cardwell, some 165 friends and 262 students currently are involved with FIS. Students from countries including the People's Republic of China, India, Australia, Egypt, Germany and Greece wish to meet American friends.

"The main thing FIS does is help a student adjust not only to Iowa and the university, but also to the American culture," Cardwell says. "FIS really helps with the adjustment and helps make the transition a lot smoother."

Everyone from families to single people can volunteer for the program. FIS volunteers represent all ages groups, from students to senior citizens. "Just as we have diversity in our students, we encourage diversity in our volunteers," said Jeanne Stoakes, FIS board member.

FIS participants frequently keep in contact with each other after the students return to their home countries. To get involved with the FIS program, call Cardwell at the UI Office of International Students and Scholars, (319) 335-0335.

OISS provides information, services, and programs that help international students and scholars benefit from their stays in Iowa. The office also seeks to foster constructive relationships among international and other members of the university community. Student advisers provide orientation for international students and scholars, personal counseling and advising, immigration advising, financial counseling, conflict resolution, and crisis intervention. They also serve as liaisons with the Friends of International Students and the International Women's Club. Call 335-0335, or visit the office in 120 IC, weekdays 1-4 p.m.

OISS is part of UI International Programs, which consist of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the Associate Provost and Dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

The OISS is located in the International Center on the UI campus. The International Center is located at the end of Ferson Avenue in Iowa City, off of Park Road.

(Note to editors and photographers: A personal feature illustrating a matched student and Iowa City resident can be arranged. If you wish to interview a local couple, single person or family who is currently matched with an international student, please call Lois Gray, International Media Relations specialist, at 335-2026 or Claire Cardwell at 335-0335.)