Volunteers sought for 'Dinner in a Nebraska Home'

Volunteers sought for 'Dinner in a Nebraska Home'
Program pairs faculty, staff with international students

NU President Hank Bounds and his family hosted five students from five countries through the "Dinner in a Nebraska Home" program in Spring 2016.
NU President Hank Bounds and his family hosted five students from five countries through the "Dinner in a Nebraska Home" program in spring 2016.

Nebraska will once again offer international students a chance to get a taste of university hospitality.

Through the “Dinner in a Nebraska Home” program -- previously called “Dinner in an American Home” -- faculty and staff volunteers host two or three international students for dinner in their home once during the semester. The initiative launched campuswide in spring 2016 when 60 faculty/staff members hosted 156 students from 26 countries.

“We figured it would be popular, but we were overwhelmed by the level of interest, particularly on the part of faculty and staff members,” said Pat McBride, director of New Student Enrollment, which coordinates the program with support from the Division of Student Affairs. “Hosts were excited to get involved, which is a great illustration of how dedicated UNL employees are to supporting international students and learning from them.”

During the dinners, students shared photos, videos, artifacts and maps from their native countries, and hosts introduced students to “real life” in Nebraska.

Before the program, 65 percent of student participants had never been inside a home in the United States. Likewise, 64 percent of hosts had not previously had an international student in their home. Student participants reported that the experience made them feel more connected to the university community and that it showed that faculty and staff cared about them.

“It was something I’ll never forget,” said Syira Amin, a senior psychology major from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, who was hosted by University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds and family. “To have dinner with the president in his home and to have the chance to talk to him about being an international student here was just incredible.”

Registration for "Dinner in a Nebraska Home" is open through Feb. 15. Faculty, staff and students can register on the New Student Enrollment website.

When participants register, they select dates when they are available to attend an introductory reception. Hosts will be matched with students based on the receptions that they and their potential guests can attend as well as factors such as transportation and dietary accommodations. At the reception, hosts and students will meet and make dinner arrangements. Dinner should be scheduled within three weeks of the reception.

For more information about the program, contact Teresa Lostroh, NSE’s international orientation coordinator, at tlostroh2@unl.edu.