New international student program to come to KSU Fall 2015

Taylor Meade

The International Friendship Family Program will come to Kent State’s campus Fall 2015 to help connect international students with local families.

The program is designed for those international students who may struggle with feeling as if they’re not “at home” when studying in the United States.

Tabetha Maly, graduate student appointee for International Student and Scholar Services, said the goal behind IFFP is to connect Kent State employees and their families with international students to create an intercultural connection.

 “It’s a connection where you (international students) have some of those resources and support without actually living with the family,” Maly said.

Maly said it would be up to the family and student to decide what kind of activities they would do together –– whether it was simply having lunch together or going to a game.

IFFP will first reach out to Kent State employees and their families, in which it could grow to include community members as well, she said. 

Desnee Stevens, assistant director of International Student and Scholar Services, said international students have expressed in the past that they wished they had someone they could connect with in the community.

“A student either incorporates well into their university environment because they find a niche or they feel very isolated,” Stevens said. 

Having a family in the community that the international student can connect with may help them find their niche or help them do well in school and succeed, Stevens said. 

When a student applies to be a part of the program, an option will be given asking whether the student is studying in the United States alone or with his or her family. 

Women’s Center Assistant Director Cassandra Pegg-Kirby said with her experience in the Women’s Center, she’s noticed a large Saudi Arabian population studying in the United States with their families. 

“I don’t think it (IFFP) just necessarily applies to single students that are here,” Pegg-Kirby said.

Students here with families may not know where to go to do certain things and may feel isolated as well, Pegg-Kirby said.

The community or faculty members that participate and invite international students into their homes and spend time with them benefit from having global experience in Kent, Pegg-Kirby said.

Due to this program, students should hopefully feel more grounded and connected, Pegg-Kirby said. 

“It’s a phenomenal program to help students feel connected not just to their classes, but also to the community,” Pegg-Kirby said.


Contact Taylor Meade at [email protected]