This volunteer program is designed to supplement the students’ academic experience by getting them off campus and into our community. International students at Lawrence live on campus but are interested in learning about American culture and having a family connection since they are so far from their home. Our families have found the Friendship Family Program to be a wonderfully rewarding experience; and for the students, the opportunity to share a bit of your lives is often one of their most cherished experiences in the United States.

The time commitment to the program does not need to be great. We typically hold two or three casual events a year for the whole group, like picnics or potlucks. Outside of these events, we expect you to connect with the student for things like meals, family gatherings, day trips, or whatever you are comfortable sharing.  A list of activities families have enjoyed in the past, can be found here. Some students and families are happy to see each other twice a year while some see one another almost every week.

If you are interested in joining the program, complete the application.  You can also get more information about the Friendship Family program by contacting

Additional Information

Family Testimonials:

"We have been part of the Friendship Family Program for 14 years, and we continue to reap the rewards of welcoming others to our community and learning about their lives. We have maintained contact with nearly all of our former students. Now we have treasured, lifelong friends around the globe!"
- Korb Family

"Hearing our student speaking at the Farewell Ceremony in the spring, really made us realize what an impact we made on her life. Being part of the program really doesn't have to cost much. We hosted two students during the 2013 - 2014 academic year. Just reaching out to your student and offering to share the everyday things that you do can be very meaningful to them. I feel that we enjoyed many conversations over meals with the students while we got to learn more about them and their countries and they also got to learn more about our family and the United States." 
-Glasheen-Curtiss Family

Student Testimonials:

"I have had an amazing experience with my friendship family for the past three years. Whether it be our movie & pizza evenings, coffee outings, Farmer's market adventures or dinner gatherings, they have never failed to show me a great time! I'm very grateful for their love & care." 
-Winnie Belai '14, Ethiopia

"I like that there is a lot of flexibility within the program. My friendship family and I are the ones who are in control of when we meet, how often we meet, and what we will do when we meet. It is really nice to have a support system who are there for me when I need someone. Also, they have been so helpful in answering all my questions about the way things work in America, particularly healthcare and taxes." 
-Angela Butler '16, Canada/Singapore

Q:  Who can volunteer as a Friendship Family?
  Past friendship families have included individual adults, single-parent families, retirees, families with young kids, empty nesters, couples, families with teens interested in a specific culture/language, and many others.  We hope you will consider joining us too!

Q:  What are the time commitments and costs associated with volunteering as a Friendship Family?
  The time commitment does not need to be great and largely depends on the schedule of your family and the student with whom you are matched.  Some friendship families meet once a week while others are happy meeting once a term.  Regarding costs, we encourage our friendship families to identify free or low-cost activities to share with their student.  Our international students most enjoy experiencing typical American family life, culture, and traditions.  While some families may choose to invite their student to special events or dinners, our students equally enjoy low-key interactive activities that give them a chance to get to know your family.  ISS has compiled a list of activities past Friendship Families have enjoyed.

Q:  How does International Student Services (ISS) choose an international student to match my family with?
  The ISS staff does their best to match your family with a student that shares similar interests and hobbies.  Our application also addresses fit preferences such as gender, country of origin, religious background, and comfort level with pets for both parties.  Finally we try to match your family with a student who has expressed a similar plan for time commitment to the Friendship Family program.

Q:  What happens if the student we're matched with is not a good fit with my family?
  Families and students are requested to notify ISS about any concerns with their match.  Sometimes participants find that a cultural difference is at the root of the concern and can be addressed.  Seldomly, when the issue can not be resolved, the family and/or the student notifies ISS that the match is not a good fit or that a break from the program is needed.  Friendship family members are encouraged to address the issue directly with each other and notify ISS of any updates, however, ISS can also facilitate the conversation if needed. 


The Friendship Family Program is coordinated by the International Student Services office at Lawrence University.  You can contact us in the following ways:


Post Mail: 
Friendship Family Program
c/o International House
Lawrence University
711 E. Boldt Way
Appleton, WI  54911

Facebook:  Lawrence University International Student Services Page