Menu Menu

OU Host Family program promotes cultural exchange

Thursday, July 25, 2013
OU Host Family program promotes cultural exchange
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

OU staff member Barb Kooiman (center) with student Yongjiao He and her friend Yaohuizuo Liu, both from China.
As Oakland University prepares to welcome a new crop of international students to campus, the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) is recruiting area families who are interested in becoming part of its Host Family program for the upcoming academic year.
The Host Family program provides support to international students by pairing them with families who help ease their transition to American culture.

Host families help international students become acclimated to new surroundings by introducing them to Oakland and the surrounding community. Students get to experience American life by participating in holidays, traditions, activities and events, while sharing their own customs and practices with their host family. 

This exchange of culture has helped create memorable experiences for dozens of families and students who have participated in the Host Family program since it was launched in fall 2009, according to Katelyn Lipp, ISSO host family program coordinator and graduate assistant. Last year 58 students participated in the program.

“We are very excited to see this program grow and are pleased to welcome our new graduate assistant Katelyn Lipp who will recruit host families, match students and families and help coordinate events for this wonderful outreach program,” said Petra Knoche, assistant director of the ISSO. Originally from the Czech Republic, Knoche appreciates the value of cultural exchange programs. 

International student Badrinath Dhakal from Nepal carves pumpkins with Host Family participant Stephanie Wither.
“Having a wonderful host family myself helped me assimilate into American culture much faster and helped me to experience so many American traditions. They were my second family.” 

For more information on the Host Family Program, contact Lipp at (248) 370-3608 or Those interested in joining the program should submit the host family enrollment form by Monday, Aug. 5.

An informational session will be held from 5-6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13 in the Oakland and Heritage rooms, located in the Oakland Center. All OU students, faculty and staff are welcome and refreshments will be provided. To learn more, visit the ISSO in 157 North Foundation Hall or view the website at

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.