International Hospitality Program Looking for Host Families
7/21/2013 6:43:20 PM
Prospective families gather at an International Hospitality forum to learn more about the program.
The International Hospitality Program is celebrating 60 years of pairing University of Virginia students from other countries with families in Charlottesville. They're now asking for the community's help to make sure every student has a home away from home.
Currently, the organization is searching for families to welcome these students and bring them into their everyday lives. The program helps students feel like home isn't quite so far away.
Ivy Sanchez Bray opens her home to international students - because she knows what they're going through.
"My heart is into it immediately because I can relate to the students who have been alone in dormitories especially during summer times, holidays - especially holidays," she said.
She came to the U.S. as an international student in the 1970s. Now she and her husband host students through the International Hospitality Program.
"They just felt that they are at home with a family and that I could give that love for them, like a motherly love or a sisterly love, they can feel it," she said.
Bill Bray serves on the board of the coalition of churches, service clubs and individuals.
"We are Charlottesville. We're the local community reaching out to the international students and international visitors here at the university," he said.
The Brays recruit other Charlottesville host families through events like the one held on Sunday to match up families with incoming UVA first year students.
"This is when they're most lonely, most detached, and they're most hungry," he said.
The families can host their students for an occasional dinner, or like the Brays, every holiday.
"We just had a Fourth of July thing and we had over 55 students from the University," he said.
But no matter how much time they spend together, they'll know someone is there for them, from the moment they arrive on grounds.
"I have their names on a sign and they already got emails from me and you know somebody is really there for them," Bray said.
The next International Hospitality forum is August 11. Click here for more information on the International Hospitality Program at UVA.
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