- Nathalie Howard knows how it feels to be in a foreign country, adjusting
to a new culture and unfamiliar surroundings. But The University of
Southern Mississippi student majoring in French was paired with a
host family while she was in France as an exchange student, which
made the initial adjustment easier.
and other Hattiesburg area families are lending the same support
to exchange students attending Southern Miss.
For the fourth
year, the Center for International and Continuing Education is sponsoring
the fourth annual International Hospitality Program, a venture pairing
new international exchange students with Hattiesburg families for
their first few days in the United States. The chance to stay in
a local home for a few days offers students a more pleasant and
personal introduction to American life, enables them to broaden
their range of social contacts and helps alleviate initial feelings
of culture shock and homesickness.
be an uncomfortable situation, arriving in a new country,"
Now, like the
host family that made her transition easier while she stayed in
Paris, Howard is helping visiting students with translation, transportation
and familiarization with the Hattiesburg area. "I just wanted
to return the favor."
also provides an opportunity for hosts to discover more about other
cultures - and hopefully make new friends in the process. International
exchange students have always described their Southern Miss experience
as being very positive, noting the warmth and friendliness of the
people, said Holly Buckner, coordinator of international programs
at Southern Miss.
to get the students paired with a family to help them become familiar
with the community by staying with them the first few days they
are here," Buckner said. "Typically they maintain relations
throughout the time the student is in school."
students currently attending Southern Miss come from Germany, France,
England, Wales and Australia. Seven families are sharing their homes
with the students for the first few days of their stay in Hattiesburg.
an exchange student from France, said it's nice to have someone
to call on like family when she needs assistance. "It's reassuring,"
she said. "It's a good start to being here, and I'm enjoying
my stay thanks to them (host family)," she said.
For more information
about the International Hospitality Program, call (601) 266-4361