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University of Iowa News Release


July 14, 2008

Volunteers sought for home stays, UI international student welcome center

Increasing international student enrollment at the University of Iowa -- combined with less housing due to the flooding -- has created a need for community volunteers who can provide short-term home stays for these newly arriving students as well as volunteer at a Welcome Center in early August.

The UI Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) is partnering with the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC) and Friends of International Students (FIS) to offer short-term home stays for incoming international students, and they are asking for members of the general public to open up their hearts and homes on a short-term basis to help as well.

The program, which begins Friday, Aug. 8, will provide a place for new students to stay until they can move into permanent housing. On-campus residences will be available on Aug. 18. Home stays are also being offered for new students who are searching for off-campus housing.

"For many years, the University Housing office has provided temporary accommodations to students who arrive early for our international student orientation program and, in spite of the challenges that they have faced, University Housing is still providing this service," said OISS Director Scott King. However, King added, this year there is a large increase in international student admissions, combined with the effects of the flooding, which has required the UI to look at alternatives.

"With lost apartments at Hawkeye Court and the closing of the Iowa House and other hotels in Iowa City and Coralville, short-term options are limited," King said. "Therefore, we are working with area community members and families through CIVIC and FIS to provide home stays for new international students. We want to give these new students a positive first view of the University of Iowa and the Iowa City/Coralville community."

King said they are looking for individuals who are willing to provide a bed and hospitality to the new students. Ideally, homes will be located near public transportation so students can easily travel to and from campus. Meals will be the responsibility of the students.

New international students must make a request through the office no later than Friday, Aug. 1. Information on home stays and the application form is available at Community members who would like to volunteer to host a student may apply at or contact OISS adviser Tim Barker at or 319-335-0335.

In addition to temporary home stays, OISS will once again host a Welcome Center to help ease the transition for the more than 500 new international students who are expected to arrive on the UI campus this fall. The Welcome Center will open Saturday, Aug. 2. Barker said OISS is looking for volunteers from both the campus and community to help during two-hour shifts.

"The main requirement of volunteers is an interest in working with international students and a bit of knowledge about the Iowa City area," Barker said. "And information is not the only purpose of the Welcome Center. Last year several students just sat around and chatted with volunteers and staff members. It was a nice way to welcome them to the area and help students feel connected to the university and community."

The Welcome Center, located in the International Programs Commons at 1117 University Capitol Centre (UCC), is designed to be a place where students can get information about the university and community, access the Internet to let family and friends know they have arrived safely, and ask questions of volunteers. The center will operate on the weekends of Aug. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17, as well as evenings on Aug. 4-8 and 11. Weekend hours will be from noon to 8 p.m. and evening weekday hours will be from 5 to 9 p.m. The center is staffed completely by student and community volunteers. Individuals should also contact Barker to volunteer for the welcome center.

In addition to the center, new international students will have assistance in adjusting to life in a new culture by participating in orientation, which lasts from Tuesday, Aug. 12 through Friday, Aug. 29. They will spend those two weeks learning about Iowa City, observing the community's wide spectrum of cultural activities, and discovering more about the university's services and resources.

For more information or a complete schedule of orientation activities, resources and programs, visit the OISS website at:

OISS is part of UI International Programs, which enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

For a complete calendar of international student orientation events, or to arrange an interview with new international students, call Kelli Andresen at 319-335-2026.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Tim Barker, 319-335-0335,; Kelli Andresen, International Programs, 319-335-2026,