The Friendship Family program is a cross-cultural exchange program that has been in existence for many years at St. Olaf. Friendship Families are often St. Olaf faculty and staff or people from the Northfield community and surrounding areas that wish to befriend a new international student. They invite them into their home (we encourage a gathering of once per month – some do more, some less, depending on your schedule), perhaps for holidays or family events, a trip to the cities, or just to hang out in an American home environment. In that way, both students and families are able to exchange ideas, cultures, and friendship.
How are students and families paired?
In the beginning of the school year we ask the students and families to fill out interest forms. Those forms will help us to decide the pairing. Students are paired with friendship families in early fall. Soon after that, there will be a potluck where students can meet with their host families.
Testimonials from students and friendship families
- Sudip Bhandari (’14)
The friendship family program here at St. Olaf has been a great resource for me in multiple ways. I have some wonderful memories of the times I’ve spent with my friendship family (who are Oles too) carving pumpkins in Halloween or having a great big meal in Thanksgiving. My first year in college as an international student, I was nervous about how things will work out for me. Thankfully, my friendship family helped me immensely in adjusting in America. Be it as simple yet important as taking me to Mall of America to buy a winter coat, or inviting me to go to Minnesota Zoo just for fun, my friendship family has helped me in every way possible to make my college life memorable, comfortable and overall much more exciting.
- Jurgen Fataj (’14)