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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 15, 2003

Community Invited To Friends Of International Students Picnic Aug. 23

Friends of International Students (FIS) will hold its annual picnic to welcome this year's incoming University of Iowa international students Saturday, Aug. 23 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in Lower City Park at Shelter 12, rain or shine.

FIS matches members of the community with international students at the University of Iowa to create opportunities for sharing cultural information and to foster international friendships between local residents and international students. Currently, there are more than 200 FIS matches. Anyone interested in helping an international student feel welcome is invited to attend the picnic. Those attending are asked to bring food to share.

Mark Cannon, FIS president, encourages members of the local community to get involved and says that it is especially critical now more than ever to build understanding between cultures on a personal level.

"Given the difficult times that we are facing in our country and in our world, it has become clear to me that an organization such as FIS fills a critical need to further develop harmony and understanding among the cultures and people of our world," Cannon says.

Unmatched students, as well as international students and friends who are already matched, will attend the picnic. Fall is the time of year when there is the greatest need for new community members to get involved because of the influx of new international students to campus. All of the estimated 350 new international students arriving on the UI campus this fall will be invited to the picnic during their orientation sessions. The UI expects nearly 1,900 international students to enroll this year, representing more than 100 different countries around the globe.

Many of these 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, India, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, Taiwan, and Turkey, among other countries.

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

FIS matches volunteer community friends with international students so they can spend time in fun, everyday life activities such as eating dinner at a restaurant -- or cooking a meal together -- going on a picnic, seeing a movie, or whatever activities they mutually enjoy. 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 with 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 the FIS office at 319-335-0343 or e-mail

OISS provides information, services and programs that help international students and scholars benefit from their stays in Iowa and 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, non-immigration visa regulations advising, financial counseling, and conflict resolution. 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 for academic programs 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.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, Program: Helen Jameson, 319-335- 3584,

NOTE TO EDITORS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS: The Aug. 23 picnic provides photo opportunities for print and TV. 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.