International Friendship Program | MCISA | Webster University

International Friendship Program

Webster University’s Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs office brings together community members and Webster University international students to advance awareness of global perspectives.

Webster International Friendship provides an opportunity for international students to connect beyond the Webster University campus and helps them better understand our community. Participation gives both the students and community members an opportunity to learn about other cultures, have stimulating conversations, and make new friends.

Webster International Friendship Program

2020-2021 Application Deadline: Friday, September 18

International Student Application
Community Friend Application

Check back with us if you are interested in joining the program mid-year.

Through this informal program, international students will be matched with members from the local community and enjoy interactions to promote the open exchange of cultural experiences, customs and ideas. Community members enjoy the satisfaction of making a significant contribution to the success of the international students’ time in the U.S.

Eman Fahmy, Beckah Reed and Sebastian Bellomo

The program is designed to foster new friendships that promote learning and appreciation for both community members and students.

Webster International Friendship program may extend beyond sharing meals and could include invitations to international students to participate in family events, holidays, off campus events and excursions, exchanging phone calls and letters. Many people like to share meals, go on outings and celebrate holidays together.

Hear from past participants in WIFP about friendship and experiences they have shared together learning about each other’s cultures.

Student Experiences

Hear from students and community friends about their experience in the International Friendship Program.


Frequently Asked Questions

Which students can sign up to participate in the Webster International Friendship Program?

Only international students attending Webster University in St. Louis, MO can sign up to participate in the program.

Nahla Fekry

Who can sign up to become a Community Friend?

Single adults, couples, single parents, and families with children of all ages can participate in the Webster International Friendship Program.  Community friends must be affiliated with the University, (e.g. Webster Groves resident, Webster University employee, or Webster University alumnus.)

Jean Dugan

Will I live in the community friend’s home?

Students participating in the program may not live with their community friend. Students are expected to have their own housing arrangements.  Community friends do not provide housing during academic breaks or school vacations.    

How often will I spend time with my community friend?

Community friends are expected to contact the student a minimum of two times per semester in an academic year, include the student in some of their activities, and answer questions about American life and culture.  Students interested in participating in the program should be sure that they have time to participate in the program before signing up to participate.  Some community friends will occasionally send emails and make phone calls to stay in touch between activities.

What if I have certain preferences as it relates to the community friend with whom I will be matched?

Community friends and students complete an application, on which they can indicate their particular preferences (e.g. gender, smoking, religious, etc.) Students will also have the opportunity to indicate any special needs, allergies, or dietary restrictions on the application.

How will I be matched with a student?

An interested community friend or international student must submit an application and participation agreement to Webster University’s Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs department.  Once all applications are received program coordinators review the applications carefully to begin making the best possible friend and student matches.

Students will be contacted to inform them of their community friend match.  Community friends and students will be invited to attend an orientation barbecue to start the program. The orientation event will give community friends and international students an opportunity to meet their respective student or friend matches and orient all participants to the program.

What if a match is not working out?

The program coordinators strive to make the best possible friend and student matches.  In the event that a match is not working well, the community friend or student should contact the program coordinator, Bethany Keller so that a different match can be made.

Please note that the Friendship Program is NOT a dating service!

Do you have a question that was not answered?

Please contact the MCISA at (314) 246-7649 or 

Program Description and Expectations

The Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) office at Webster University engages interested enrolled international students at the beginning of the school year (September). Married students and those with children may be part of the program, but it should be noted on application.

The MCISA will engage interested community members. A community member must have a connection to the University, e.g. residing in Webster Groves.  Families with and without children, single parent families and individuals participate in this program.

The MCISA will match the participants based on the requests of each applicant. Once matches are complete, the University will host a small gathering at the University for participants to meet and ask that all participants complete a Participation Agreement.

Community friends have no legal, financial or housing obligations to their international student friends. The program is not intended as a venue to recruit or enlist students in civic, religious, or business endeavors. The University will provide relevant information to participants regarding the legal requirements international students must follow while in the United States on student visas (F-1 or J-1).

It is suggested that families and students attempt to connect at least the two to three times per semester during the academic year (Sept. to May), on the average. What develops after a student and community member are matched depends on the mutual interests and convenience of both parties. Also, major holiday celebrations are generally of interest to many international students.

Jean Dugan's family with Marcel Goumou

Participants should be respectful of others’ smoking preferences.

Participants should abide by the Missouri’s laws regarding the legal age for drinking.

To respect the wellbeing and safety of all participants, community members and students should maintain a minimum of two people in any one setting at all times.

Community members may be asked to provide transportation to and from the resident’s home, unless the home is within walking distance for the students.

If an emergency situation occurs during your meeting, please call 911 if necessary and appropriate, and Webster University’s Public Safety (314-968-6900) to ensure that all participants receive the attention required.