Cross-Cultural Friendship Partner FAQs
International students are often very lonely and new students may need to get oriented to their new surroundings when they first arrive in Augusta. By inviting an international student to spend some time with you and/or your family and by having fun together, the student will feel they have a friend here in Augusta. In return, you and/or your family will be enriched by learning about the student's culture.
How is this different from an English Conversation Partner?
The ECP program partners meet for an hour weekly or two hours biweekly for English conversation. Although the Friendship Partnership will certainly benefit the student's grasp of English, this will not be the primary focus. In the Friendship Partner program, partners meet monthly for at least two hours. The focus is to include the student in your and/or your family's activities.
What Time Commitment is Expected?
We ask that you include your student in an activity that you and/or your family are doing at least once a month. The activity should be at least 2 hours long. However, if you would like to interact with your student more often, that is encouraged! It is also encouraged that you try to maintain the friendship for at least 6 months.
When would I be needed?
All year round! Most international students arrive in the fall, but we have requests for friendship throughout the year.
How will I and/or my family be matched with a student?
After completing a training and having a New Volunteer Application approved, we look at our list of students waiting for partners and try to find a match with similar interests. The extent to which this is possible depends on who is on the list. If you are a single person, we would only match you with a student of the same gender and near your age. If you prefer a student from a particular country, cultural or religious background, we will try to accommodate that if possible. The vast majority of students that request our services are from Asia. We almost never receive requests from Europe.
What if I am unable to contact the student I have been assigned?
Please remember that you are the host to a guest in our country and realize that it can be very intimidating for an international to make the first contact, especially using a second language. Please do not give up after one attempt. Try the student several times and call them if your emails are not answered. If after these attempts you are still unsuccessful, please contact the International Link office (706-760-4152) so that we can either facilitate the contact or rematch you with another student.
How long is my commitment?
Since you are only asked to meet one time per month (minimum), we would like to see you continue your relationship with the student for at least six months. In an ideal situation a friendship would develop and last until the student or you move away from Augusta.
What if my student returns to his/her home country or can no longer meet with me?
Then please let us know and we would be happy to match you with someone else!
Do these students speak English?
Yes, students must have a minimal grasp of English to be admitted to Augusta University. If they are the spouse (or parents) of a student their English may not be quite as good. However, as you interact with the student and/or spouse, their English will improve. This would be a side benefit for the student and/or spouse!
What types of activities would be suitable?
If you are meeting with the student one-on-one, then just feel free to hang out - share a meal together, go shopping, take a bike ride, do some cooking, etc. If your whole family is involved, invite the student for a family birthday or cookout, to attend family sports games, or a concert. We have lots of other ideas which we'll send along after you have been matched!
What about sharing my faith?
Your commitment to the student should be that of unconditional friendship and love. Please be sensitive to the fact that students come from many different cultural and religious backgrounds and may have little or no previous exposure to Christianity. Hopefully over time you will build a trust relationship which would by an appropriate context for sharing spiritually. We ask that you not force spiritual discussion but be sensitive to the student and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. In many cases, the students are very open to such discussions. It is appropriate to naturally include your faith as it relates to your life experiences.
The International Link, P.O. Box 211011, Augusta, GA, 30917; Google phone number: 706-760-4152