Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Helena Rodriguez
PORTALES — One of the hardest things about going to school in another country is being away from family and friends while simultaneously being thrown into a completely different culture.
To help provide a support system for international students, Eastern is seeking host families to serve as "adopted families" for new students from China, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico and other countries. Students will not live with the host families. Most of the students, which include undergraduates and graduates, are already living in college dormitories. Host families are primarily asked to give the students time and provide emotional and mental support.
"The hardest thing is being away from home. You miss your family and when you do well on a test or something, it is nice to have someone close to tell you," said Dr. Gary Musgrave, vice president for Student Affairs. Musgrave said host families are also ideal to help students learn first-hand about American culture.
Diana Cordova, director of Multicultural Affairs, was an exchange student herself while a student in Spain. She spent a summer in Syracuse, N.Y., so she knows first-hand that having a host family is about the little things, like having someone there to pick you up when you are down. But in addition to helping international students, Cordova said, there's a two-way street of benefits when it comes to being a host family. "By hosting a student, you deepen your cultural understanding. You expand your family's views of other countries and people contribute in a small but significant way toward world peace, which is needed. But most importantly, you change the viewpoint of a student of another culture by offering him or her the opportunity of a lifetime."
Musgrave said having as much as 30 host families would be ideal, but he said even 20 would be great. Hosts do not necessarily have to be traditional nuclear families. They can be families with children, empty nesters or even single parents.
Musgrave said international students are the greatest ambassadors for their countries and that they tend to be very responsible. He also spoke highly of the local community, which he said has continuously offered support by opening its doors to international students.
For more information about being a host family, contact Ty Walker, director of Counseling and Career Services, at 505.562.2211.