Friendship Partners Offer Insight into American Culture

Posted: October 9, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Friends In Deed, a nonprofit organization that helps international students adapt to American life and culture, is looking for faculty and staff members to volunteer as mentors for international students.

The Friendship Partners Program matches a family or adult individual with an international student studying at George Mason. The partners provide a place to practice conversational English and introduce their students to community resources. Once a partner is matched with a student, the partner is asked to give a minimum of a once-a-month commitment–a phone call, e-mail, or letter–to let the student know help is available. In addition, students and partners are invited to monthly events sponsored by Friends In Deed so they can meet other people in the program.

“Friendship is the primary need for international students,” says Howard Grindle, director of Friends In Deed, which has been in existence for seven years. “The program has had most of its success in providing friends for the students so they don’t feel alone. Our primary goal is to provide unconditional love and support.”

According to Grindle, strong bonds have been formed between partners and students in the past, as each learns something of the other’s culture and ideals. “In light of Sept. 11, programs like ours play an even more important role because they help people understand the world and reach out to another person. These students are just like us. They have the same dreams and desires as we do no matter what country they come from,” says Grindle.

For more information, contact Grindle at (703) 385-7638 or friendsindeed@juno.com.

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