By Jean Pier Dorta, former student
In research done at Purdue University, 80% of International Students would never have had the opportunity to be welcomed in an American Home for lunch or dinner If it wasn't for International Outreach Programs. To change those statistics, the owners of EFI launched the open home program.
People from the community who express their interests in hosting a student from EFI are matched with a student. Then, plans are set for the host and the student to meet and for the student to go to the host house and grab some food and have the opportunity to share ideas, perspectives and culture.
Recently, two students from EFI went to the Boswells’ House--friends of EFI—and these are their experiences:
“It was an excellent experience, because you get in touch directly with the American culture and their surroundings, and it helps you to improve your English. They care about you, giving you some advices about how to improve your English. I definitely liked it. It was a different experience, because we actually were with an American family, and many students here are living with family from their own culture or relatives. This exercise complements the classrooms' learning, giving you the opportunity of knowing about food, traditions, beliefs, etc. I would definitely recommend others to do it, because besides improving your English, you might share with different people from different ages and backgrounds.
“They care a lot about you at the very beginning. They are simple people that are not complicated once they open you their home doors, and they are willing to help you to communicate and learn about their lifestyle. Americans always want to make you feel at home, regardless of where you came from or if your English is not that good. It was not my first experience with an American family, which is why I have noticed that their kindness and openness are cultural more than an isolated case. The most similar thing between an American family and a Colombian one is that they always want to make you feel at home, and the difference would be that Americans rely on your good faith at the beginning and for us—Colombians—we take a little bit time before trusting you completely.”
“It was a great experience for your personal growth and knowledge because you get involved with people with a lot more experiences and older than you, so It is always enjoyable and profitable to hear their stories, their personal beliefs, etc. I did like it, and I would recommend all Students of EFI to do it. It is an excellent way to know more about American culture, their points of view, and beliefs, and you might share your opinion as well and learn not only English, but the culture which surrounds it. I had to practice my English -there is no other choice- and I realized that I was capable of communicating because of the classes I am taking at EFI.
“They are very receptive people and quite open. They care about you, and they want you to feel comfortable and well-received at their place, trying to build a bridge between your cultures and your language and theirs. It was not my first time at an American home, but I am living here in Roswell with relatives, so it was an opportunity of practicing my English and doing something different from my routine. The most similar aspect of an American family and a Venezuelan one is that they always try to share their daily activities at dinner time and spend time together when they get the opportunity. The most different thing is that Venezuelans like to kid around and makes jokes at the very beginning; Americans are a little bit more formal when they get to know you at first, and it takes them some time before they kid with you and fool around.”