Friendship Connections: Frequently Asked Questions
What are the goals of the Friendship Connections program?
Our primary goal through this program is to build international understanding. We see the relationship between Friendship Connections and students as a two-way process in which both have much to offer each other in terms of cultural knowledge and exchange.
Another important goal of the program is to help international students to feel welcome and included in the Seattle-area community. Often it is difficult for visiting students to build relationships with local community members off-campus, and having those connections can strengthen students’ feelings of comfort, safety, and belonging in a new and unfamiliar place.
Who is eligible to apply?
All new University of Washington international students and scholars are welcome to apply for the Friendship Connections program.
How much does it cost?
The placement fee for this program is $35.
This fee IS NOT paid to your local Friendship Connection, as all FIUTS hosts are volunteers who recieve no payment for serving as hosts. Program fees are charged to your MyUW student account, and will be due with your tuition. The fee supports the administration of the program by FIUTS staff. If you are not matched with a Friendship Connection, you will not be charged.
What is the time commitment?
Students and community volunteers initially commit to getting together with one another on a regular basis (usually about once or twice a month) for at least three quarters, or about nine months. Many students and volunteers, however, choose to remain in contact and maintain their connection throughout the students’ time at the University of Washington and even beyond.
Keep in mind that some exchange students stay at the University of Washington for less than three quarters, in which case the duration of the Friendship Connection will be shorter.
Are there structured activities as part of the program?
FIUTS offers many opportunities for students and volunteers to get together at our ongoing programs and events throughout the year, and Friendship Connections program participants may choose for themselves whether they wish to attend FIUTS events together or to schedule their meetings at different times (or both).
FIUTS events include Community Potlucks, Food & Culture Nights, Wednesday Lunch, Culture Conversation Group and Film Series throughout the year. Check out the FIUTS calendar for updated information. Fall participants are also invited to the Host Appreciation Night (Reception) during Fall Orientation.
Is there a program orientation for students?
Students receive information about the program via email, but are not asked to attend any in-person orientation. We ask that students read the provided information carefully, and contact FIUTS staff with any questions.
What are FIUTS Community Friendship Connections like?
FIUTS community volunteers, including homestay hosts and Friendship Connections, are unpaid volunteers from the Seattle area who offer their hospitality as a gesture of friendship and goodwill. They may be young or old, married or single, gay or straight, with younger children or retired. They are from a variety of ethnic, religious, economic and educational backgrounds, reflecting the diverse culture of the United States. For your best match, please be sure to tell us as much about yourself as possible in your application.
How do I apply for a Friendship Connection?
Friendship Connections applications are accepted online through the FIUTS website. Most students who apply to the program are placed with hosts, but because of the high demand for this program, FIUTS cannot guarantee that you will be placed.
When do students receive notification of their Friendship Connection?
For new students, we will let you know the status of your Friendship Connection application no less than two weeks before your arrival in Seattle. For students who are already in Seattle, we will let you know the status of your application no more than two weeks after you apply.
Information will be sent by e-mail as soon as you have been matched with a Friendship Connection. You should get in touch with your Friendship Connection right away once you receive this message so that you can set up a time to meet!
What is expected of me as a participant in this program?
For complete program guidelines, please click here (PDF).
Will my Friendship Connection be able to pick me up at the airport?
Maybe. Many volunteers work during the day, so they may or may not be able to pick you up. You will receive information about airport transportation in one of the FIUTS pre-arrival emails, so don't worry - if your Friendship Connection can't pick you up, there are lots of options!
Additional questions? Contact Manager of Community Programs Samantha at email@example.com.