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

Release: Aug. 18, 2000

Community invited to Friends of International Students picnic

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- More participants are needed for the Friends of International Students program, which matches local residents with international students at the University of Iowa. Community members can learn more about the program (FIS) at a picnic Sunday, Aug. 27 from noon to 4 p.m. in Shelter 11 in Lower City Park, rain or shine.

Unmatched students as well as international students and Friends who are already matched will attend the picnic. Matched Friends are asked to bring plenty of food to share and table service. FIS will provide the beverages. Door prizes will also be given, and FIS t-shirts can be purchased for $5. A new feature this year will be a variety of group games.

"There is an ongoing need for new Friends to be matched with international students," said FIS president Ethel Bontrager. "It's especially important to get more Friends in the program now because many new international students have recently arrived on campus, and we want to welcome them to the University of Iowa and make it a special time for them."

An estimated 375 new international students have recently arrived on the UI campus, bringing total international student enrollment to nearly 1,800. Many of these new students wish to meet Americans who will help welcome them to the local community and show them the ropes in their new home in Iowa. New students who have applied to the program are from the following countries: Lebanon, Poland, Romania, Chile, Cuba, Nigeria, South Africa, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Kenya. The majority of students are from China and India.

FIS is a non-profit organization of people in the local community who are interested in meeting and helping international students from the UI. FIS is affiliated with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) at the UI and is run by community volunteers.

Volunteer community Friends are matched with international students and spend time together doing fun activities that are an everyday part of life such as having dinner together, going on a picnic, going to a movie or just getting together and chatting.

Cheryl Mason, international student adviser and FIS liaison, said that currently more than 150 Friends and more than 250 international students are involved with FIS.

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

Families as well as single people may volunteer for the program. FIS volunteers represent all age groups, from students to senior citizens. FIS is a flexible program. There are no set activities or

time commitments. Although the program encourages people to meet at least once a month, others meet more often.

For more information about the picnic or to get involved with the program, call (319) 335-0343 or e-mail

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. For more information, call 335-0335, or visit the office in 120 International Center.

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 EDITOR'S AND PHOTOGRAPHERS: The Aug. 27 picnic provides photo opportunities for print and TV since there is usually a good turnout. A personal feature illustrating a match can be arranged. If you wish to interview a current match, please call Lois Gray at (319) 335-2026.)