Global Friends Program
Started as Friendship International, the William & Mary Global Friends Program is a voluntary program that matches international students with members of the local community in an effort to foster cross-cultural friendships and understanding.
The Reves Center coordinates this program, matching international students with community members in the Williamsburg area. The Reves Center also hosts an event each semester to bring the students and their hosts together. Past events have included a Pasta Dinner and Ghost Tour of Colonial Williamsburg, an outing on the James River, and a potluck picnic at Waller Mill Park.
Why Be a Global Friend?
Community members who participate have the opportunity to learn more about another country, perhaps reconnect with a country in which they have lived or traveled, and get the chance to assist someone settle in to life in Williamsburg.
International students are able to meet and connect with real American families and experience what American daily life is like outside of campus. By interacting with a global friend, international students have the chance to learn about the U.S. and local culture, customs, and traditions.
International spouses and partners can meet people to practice their English (conversation partners), and experience what American daily life is like outside of campus. Like international students, international spouses and partners have the chance to learn about the U.S. and local culture, customs, and traditions by interacting with global friends.
What Kind of Commitment does the Program entail?
The Global Friends Program is not a home-stay program - students live on campus or in private off-campus housing. Rather, the program is designed as a way for students to get to know Americans and be introduced to American life outside of campus, and a way for community members to get involved and participate in cultural exchange. Community participants are asked simply to keep in contact with their international student throughout the academic year via visits, e-mail, or phone (or a combination thereof!) We encourage participants to invite their international student to at least one activity or event per semester: invite him/her to a home cooked meal, a family outing to a local park, a local sports event, or cultural activity - in short, any event(s) that would enhance the international student's experience in the U.S.
Typically, we match students to one or more Global Friend(s) for the academic year. However, many participants maintain contact long after the formal period has ended.
View our Global Friends brochure for more information on Global Friends activities.
Matching Students with Community Members
Applicants are matched based on interests. It is important that you tell us about yourself on the application form, so we can facilitate the best matches possible. Please understand that we cannot guarantee that your Global Friend(s) will exactly fit your wishes (country of origin, language, etc). Once partners are sent each other's contact information, they are expected to contact each other and arrange a convenient time and place to meet.
I want to be a Global Friend - how do I join?
Please contact [[globalfriends, Bronwen Watts]].
Our Global Friends Program Handbook (pdf) is also a great resource for information on the program, ideas for activities, information about cultural adjustment, etc.
The William & Mary Global Friends Program is based on a philosophy of mutual respect of culture, religion, beliefs, and customs between all participants. The program's purpose is to foster cross-cultural friendship and understanding.
Take their Word for it: What previous participants have said about Global Friends
"I've really enjoyed the opportunity to welcome someone from a different country and culture to Williamsburg. It has been a great learning experience for both of us and it is a nice way to be connected to the College community."
"I believe the global friend experience is a great idea. It really helped me to have a contact away from the university. Gail and Peter were two lovely people who took a lot of interest in my year. I went to visit them at their home and they took me out for a couple of meals in the local district."
"As far as I'm concerned, I think the Global Friends Program is wonderful. I got very well matched according to my interests. I got really amazing global friends with whom I spent some wonderful time. My global friends are welcoming and very friendly. It is good to have somebody that cares for you when you are in a country you don't know."
"I think it's a great program/concept. I'm pleased to see the varied opportunities for internationals through the newsletter and am happy to play a part in building relationships. It is becoming, I think, a true cultural exchange. Anyway, it's a good experience and we're happy to help and meet internationals."