International Students and Scholars Office

ISSO Family Friendship Program

The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) would like to invite you to participate in the Family Friendship Program (FFP).  The FFP is part of a joint university and community effort to welcome international students to UNI and the community, to acquaint them with American culture, and to enhance the quality of their stay in Iowa. The program encourages local host families and international students to spend time together and to learn about each other’s cultures through food and friendship.  Above all, FFP strives to foster international and cross-cultural understanding. 

Students who are interested in this program are eager to learn more about American culture through a family-centered approach. Likewise, families who participate in the program wish to connect with international students and learn about other cultures through a personal connection.  Host families are not required to provide housing, financial, academic, or medical assistance.

Once paired, families arrange to meet and spend time with international students at least once per month or as often as they mutually desire.  Families can invite students for family outings, informal family meals, holiday celebrations, and any other activities that promise to expose international students to various aspects of American culture and traditions.  Students may invite their host families to events on campus.  

 Whether you are an international student looking for a family away from home or a family wishing to welcome international students into your lives, please consider the ISSO Family Friendship Program.  

Image of new students having dinner with their host family Image of international students with their host family during the Thanksgiving Potluck Image of international students with their host family during the Thanksgiving Potluck


To apply, fill out one of the following


Activities -- Due to COVID-19  and to the social distancing practices that have been instituted at UNI and in the state of Iowa all communications and activities take place online. 


In November, ISSO hosts a Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner where all students and families are encouraged to attend together. Besides this event, most families and students arrange their own activities throughout the year. Below is a list of activities submitted by families and students:

  • Share traditional family meals at home

  • Go out to local eateries (restaurants, ice cream, frozen yogurt, coffee/tea, etc.)

  • Go shopping

  • Attend local music events and concerts

  • Have a picnic or barbeque (BBQ)

  • Go to the Farmer’s Market

  • Visit tourist attractions (museums, Amana Colonies, Cattle Congress, Adventureland, etc.)   

  • Attend family parties (birthdays, graduations, reunions, showers, etc.)

  • Watch fireworks

  • Explore downtown Cedar Falls

  • Play games (board games, cards, video games, etc.)

  • Bake treats at home (cookies, cake, pies, etc.)

  • Outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, skating, climbing, boating or fishing

  • Celebrate holidays:

    • Halloween: pumpkin carving, corn maze, costume party, trick-or-treat with kids or give candy  

    • Christmas: celebrate with family, eat meals, open presents, attend concerts, view Christmas lights, visit Santa, etc.