Friends of International Students (FIS)

FIS is a non-residential program that facilitates student/family friendships across culture, across generations, and across communities (on and off campus). We match international students with a local host family – to introduce our vibrant community to students from far away, and to introduce new people, places, and cultures to the people who live here.  FIS offers an exciting opportunity for mutual friendship and cultural exchange. 

  • FAMILY Application  FIS hosts come in all shapes and sizes - we encourage participation in FIS, regardless of life stage and family composition. There are nearly 150 local families involved!
     
  • STUDENT Application   Students whose home address is outside of the U.S. are invited to participate in FIS.  International students make up 13% of our student body - we enroll about 200 students from 50+ countries.

How it Works:

  1. Families and students complete the application to indicate your interest in participating. 
     
  2. The OISA assigns student/family 'matches' in early August.  Families receive information about your host student by mail, and students receive information about your FIS host upon arrival in Grinnell. The OISA will arrange your initial opportunity to meet - over dessert, during the International Pre-Orientation Program (IPOP).  Families will also receive a Hosting Handbook with tips and guidelines for participation. 
     
  3. The next step is for YOU (students and hosts) to initiate contact and extend invitations to get together!  Families invite students to visit their homes and to explore the local area. Students invite families to campus activities, and may consider their host family as a resource for their adjustment to life in the U.S. 

We ask families and/or students to initiate at least three activities per semester (some do more, some do less). While in-person contact is preferred, phone and email are also great ways to stay connected. The OISA also organizes a reception during Family Weekend, an annual Pot-Luck dinner (February), and sends occasional emails/announcements and a copy of our magazine, MOSAIC.  

It is our hope that your relationship will grow and last throughout the student's stay in Grinnell! 

For more information, contact the OISA [641-269-3703] or one of the Host Family Volunteer Coordinators: Rachel Bly, JoAnn Britton, or Ashley Grundler.