International students and friends program

International Friends Program

Please note: The International Friends program is temporarily suspended for Fall 2020. Students who start their academic program in Fall 2020 will be given the opportunity to sign up for this program at a later date.

Connecting international undergraduate students with local families to develop meaningful intercultural exchange, friendship and support for international students while they are in the USA.

My first experience of Thanksgiving was unforgettable. I wanted to send you the pictures of it.

2018 Student

Who can participate?

Undergraduate Students

  • The program is open to all new international, exchange, transfer, or global nomad undergraduate students at The University of Akron.
  • Priority is given to students entering their first semester at the university, although other undergraduates will be considered as space in the program allows.

We regret that this program is not currently open to graduate students.

Local Families

  • The program is open to families in the Akron area who would like to make friends with an international student.
    • A signed Volunteer Agreement is required in order to participate in this program.
    • We reserve the right to check references.

We plan to meet [our student] again this Friday, and we are thrilled to have this connection! Thanks for this opportunity.

2018 Family

Why join and how does the program work?

Local families support students as they adjust to our community. This is particularly important as their families live far away. Both students and families enjoy the intercultural exchange and lasting connections that can grow from this program.

Matching students to families

Matches are made at the start of the Fall semester, in August of each year. The International Center will host a meet-and-greet session at the start of the semester, to introduce participants to each other.

  • Note: Students will not live with the families, students continue to live in their current UA housing.

Get to know each other

Students and families can meet anywhere from once a week to a couple of times a semester. The expectation is that families and students will get together during the first Fall semester that a student is in Akron.

  • It is up to each student/family to determine when and how frequently to meet.
  • Students and families are encouraged to continue the relationship beyond that timeframe should they wish.

Suggested activities

  • Cooking and eating together.
  • Shopping for winter clothing (families are not expected to pay for student purchases).
  • Attending local events, both on and off campus.
  • Tips & Expectations (pdf)


At the end of the semester we will have each family and student complete evaluation forms about their experience.

Family - Evaluation Form

Student - Evaluation Form

Thanks to you for bringing such a great program to UA! I have just went to a football game and tailgate party with the family. It was awesome! I hope the whole program will be a great experience.

2018 Student

How to join?

We are now taking applications from undergraduate students and families to participate in the International Friends Program beginning in August 2019, please apply below.

Document quick links: 

Local families - Sign up now

Students - Sign up now


Contact the International Center or Elaine Shannon-Smith, program consultant.