When international students from across the world choose to attend California Baptist University, the school makes it a priority for them to feel at home with their American host family program.
Each semester, the International Center seeks host families from several different countries to help students adjust to American culture and offer a place of comfort outside of the CBU campus.
“These students do not have any family in the United States, so we make it an effort to provide them with families who can help them with inclusion and immersion in American culture,” said Megan Adams, receptionist for the International Center.
Every international student currently involved in the Intensive English Program and Lifeline program is required to have a host family for his or her first semester. Although the students do not live with them, they are welcomed to family events, outings and holidays.
“The students get to experience holidays they would not normally celebrate, such as Thanksgiving,” said Julie Jones, assistant director of academic advising and former host. “This way, we can show them it is not only about a turkey but giving thanks to God for all he has done for us.”
Families who are involved in the program also get a chance to serve by sharing the gospel with unreached students.
“In the Bible, we’re called to go out to the nations and make disciples, but in this program, we have the benefit of the nations coming to us,” Jones said.
Although the program is only a semester long, many hosts and their students make deep connections that result in long-term relationships.
“We have international students who return home after their time here at CBU and come back just to visit their host family,” Adams said.
Although host families are only offered to Lifeline and IEP members, the International Center hopes to expand the program by their outreach to not only CBU staff but churches and residents in the Riverside community.
“This experience is important because it is rare that international students are afforded the opportunity to visit the States,” said Leslie Shelton, director of International Student Services. “This is a great chance for international relations because many of these students are going to be leaders in their communities.”
When students from different countries travel to the States for the first time, they may experience culture shock and have difficulties adjusting. The program the International Center offers provides a welcome and a long-lasting impression of America.