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

Release: Aug. 13, 2001

NOTE TO EDITOR'S AND PHOTOGRAPHERS: The Aug. 25 picnic provides photo opportunities for print and TV since there is usually a good turnout. A personal feature illustrating a match can also be arranged. If you wish to interview a current match, please call Lois Gray at (319) 335-2026.

Community invited to Friends of International Students picnic Aug. 25

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Members of the community have an opportunity to develop friendships with students from all around the world, without even spending money for a plane ticket.

More participants are needed for the Friends of International Students (FIS) program, which matches local residents with international students at the University of Iowa. Community members can learn more about FIS at a picnic from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25 in Lower City Park at Shelter 6, rain or shine.

Unmatched students, as well as international students and Friends who are already matched, will attend the picnic. Anyone interested in helping an international student feel welcome is invited to attend. Those attending are asked to bring food to share.

"The need for friends is especially great this time of year as many new international students arrive on the campus," said Ethel Bontrager outgoing FIS president.

An estimated 375 new international students are arriving on the UI campus this fall, 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 are coming from all over the world, including China, Korea, Taiwan, India, Japan, Malaysia, Romania, and Pakistan, among other countries.

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. Bontrager says that currently more than 150 Friends and an estimated 250 international students are involved with FIS.

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 advisors 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 consists 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.

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 Park Road.