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Host families and international students build lasting relationships


A student and her host family celebrate a traditional American birthday with cake, board games, and balloons.

The most powerful man in China visited the United States last year, just before he came to power as party chairman. Xi Jinping's first stop wasn't Washington, D.C. In fact, he kept President Obama waiting as he flew out to Iowa to spend the night with his former host family, whom he had stayed with during a trip decades ago.

More often than not, foreign exchange students build lifelong bonds with their host families. With an international population of 1,500 students and a host database of over 1,000 families, Green River embraces the importance of host families in the community. In fact, Green River's standardized policies, procedures, and manual has turned the host family program into a best practices model for other colleges and organizations. Program leaders regularly take calls from other colleges asking for advice and tips.

Cindy Rapier, Green River director of International Housing, notes that the host family program greatly benefits both sides: "The host family provides a soft landing for a student in their new country," giving them a home, helping them set up their banking and cell phone, and providing family-style meals. The student, on the other hand, "internationalizes the host family, bringing a cultural exchange and helping the parents and children develop a global worldview," says Rapier, whose own sons were positively influenced by the presence of international students in their home.

To learn more about the host family program at Green River, visit the Green River host family blog, click around on their facebook page, or call x2129 for information on the next host family orientation.