Here is something we would love to highlight with the nations gathering!
What is “International Friends”? International Friends is an interdenominational group of local people from different churches in the greater Coleraine area who seek to offer friendship within a family setting to international students studying at The University of Ulster at Coleraine. (UUC)
What does it mean to be a “link person/family”? Being a link person/family means that you will volunteer to befriend a student or students from the university and be their “Link family” for a semester or first year while they are at UUC. Twice a year, there is an intake of foreign students at UUC and many of them decide that they would like to experience some local hospitality. They are matched with a “link” who will then receive their details. We suggest that initial contact is made with the student within two weeks of receiving their details. Any later and they will contact us to see what’s gone wrong.
Your student or students will appreciate being invited into your home and, although they enjoy home cooking, they do not expect elaborate meals! They will also be glad of your help, advice and a listening ear should problems arise, but it is probably best to leave legal and financial problems to the appropriate agencies within the university.
What nationality are the students? Our students come from all over the world and usually stay for between three months and a year. We have an agreement with the university to respect their religious and cultural identities, so an invitation to a student should not be regarded solely as a chance to “profess the gospel.” Whatever witnessing we do should be in the context of genuine friendship and interest in them as a person. Remember the words of the song, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love..”
- Be definite about the time, date and place of your first meeting with your student. Don’t just say, “Drop in any time!” or “Let me know when you feel like coming.”
- If possible, collect him/her/them the first time or meet them off public transport.
- Make it clear what the invitation includes. A lot of students are unsure what is meant by, “tea”, “lunch” “supper” or “come over for the day.”
- In some instances, you may be able to ask your student to bring a friend, perhaps from their flat or halls of residence. This can make it is easier for you.
- Please be really clear about dietary requirements before they come for a meal. You do not want to serve pork to a Jewish or Muslim student, for example, or meat to a vegan or vegetarian student!
- Please keep in regular contact, whether by email, phone or in person.
- Remember, you do not always have to entertain them at your home. You could go for a walk, meet them for a coffee, take them to the cinema or a play.
- We would implore you to PLEASE support all the events that International Friends organises throughout the year for our students. It means so much for the students to see their Link families joining in and enjoying the events with them!
What if I have any difficulties or questions during my time as a Link?
Please contact either your church representative (Gillian Alcorn firstname.lastname@example.org) or send an email to: email@example.com
We in International Friends have all found being a host a uniquely enriching and beneficial experience and we hope you enjoy hosting your student(s) as much as we have done and continue to do. Thank You! NOW, please register on-line as a LINK PERSON at our new International Friends website. Then we can contact you and keep you up to date with our events!
Go to www.international-friends.co.uk and click on, “Link person’s registration.”