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International Friendship Family Program

Dartmouth's Friendship Family Program (FFP) gives new international undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to become acquainted with local families in the Upper Valley.  Sponsored by International Student Programs-OPAL, the Friendship Family Program pairs students with host families who welcome them to the U.S. and help them adjust to college life at Dartmouth. Students and families get to know one another through occasional visits to host families' homes, going on outings, attending FFP events, and spending special occasions together.  The FFP experience provides students with a unique "window into American culture," as well as gives families the opportunity to benefit from Dartmouth's extremely diverse international community.

What is the International Friendship Family Program (FFP)?

  • FFP is an OPAL program that matches new international Dartmouth students with local U.S. families.
  • The purpose of FFP is to give students and families the opportunity to build relationships and share cultures in a unique, personal, and fulfilling way.
  • After being paired over the summer, all student-family matches are invited to a welcome reception in the fall to meet, greet, and get to know one another.
  • Students and families then arrange to spend time together on their own (either off-campus or at Dartmouth) as often as mutually desired.
  • Friendship Families may include their student in informal dinners, holiday celebrations, occasional family outings, or any other event that adds to the richness of his/her experience in the U.S.
  • Dartmouth students often invite their Friendship Families to on-campus events and programs open to the public.
  • The initial commitment is for the fall term, but many students and families choose to remain in contact and maintain their relationships throughout the students' time at Dartmouth and even beyond.
  • Friendship Families include Dartmouth faculty members, administrators, and staff members, as well as residents in the surrounding Upper Valley communities.  Friendship Families may be single individuals, couples, partners, or families with children of various ages.

What has the International Friendship Family Program meant to its previous participants?

"I have loved my FFP experience. My family opened their home to me, they have provided me with a support base and invited me to participate in American traditions I would never have experienced otherwise. The Friendship Family Program is great!"-- Janine Leger '15

"Adapting to a new environment can be challenging, and your first impression of the college can end up defining your opinion for the next four years. The care and support from a warm and loving family has definitely made me perceive Dartmouth as a close-knit community. From the open conversations and the delicious home-made meals provided by my friendship family, I've no doubt felt at home even whilst living in a foreign country." - Yannick Yu, '15

"I am really grateful to this program for giving me a home away from home. The warmth, love and support that I receive from every member of my friendship family helps me get through all my tough times here alone in USA.  We celebrate our cultural differences and there is always so much to learn from their way of life. We always end up learning so much more about each other and our countries. In spite of all the differences, I can happily say that they have accepted me as a part of their extended family and so have I. My association with them will go a long way even after Dartmouth. Please continue this amazing Friendship Family Program as it makes this whole experience much more heart-warming and complete."--Kirti Khopkar, Graduate Student, Thayer School of Engineering

“The International Friendship Family Program has been a wonderful opportunity for our family. We now know two students who come from places far removed from the Upper Valley whose perspectives on Dartmouth and on the United States are refreshing and interesting. Our daughters have made a personal connection to the global community. We have all made lifelong friends. I would recommend the International Friendship Family Program to anyone in the Upper Valley who is interested in exploring the diverse and fascinating world we live in, one student at a time.” – Kate Soule, Dean of the Faculty Office

“I like my Friendship Family. I feel I have definitely made a friend for life and a better match could not have been made. Thanks very much to everyone at the International Student Programs office who matched us, and I hope to keep in touch with her well beyond the Program and Dartmouth!!” – Toyin Abifarin, Graduate Student, Thayer School of Engineering

"Our FF student was enthusiastic about learning about the US and enjoyed participating in various quintessentially American activities: e.g. cider pressing, Thanksgiving, Dartmouth hockey and baseball games. We really enjoyed seeing the US through his eyes. He was also generous in talking about his own country and culture (Republic of China)."--Sophia and Fred Crawford

"The Friendship Family program has been a wonderful gift for our family while our three kids were growing up and even now that they are out and on their own and my husband and I are the only ones participating.  We have gotten to know a Tuck student and his wife from Japan, a wonderful student from Ghana (also a great dancer with SHEBA) who is now working for ORACLE, a lovely young woman from Greece who is now working in Washington, D.C. and this year we are getting acquainted with a freshman from Karachi, Pakistan and a wonderful young woman from Beijing who is a graduate student at the Thayer school.  Every one, without exception, has been bright, generous with their time and often with gifts for the family, and very appreciative of our family's effort to introduce them to a slice of America.  Our time commitment in the program has not been great over the years but it has been time SO well spent.  We still stay in touch with some of our students and have gotten to meet some of their families over the years.  We would recommend the program to everyone!"--Elaine M. Olmstead

To learn more about how you can get involved, please visit the appropriate link below.

How can I find out more about FFP?

To learn about the program directly from past participating families, please call International Student Programs-OPAL at (603) 646-2331, and we will be happy to provide you with contact information for our FFP Advisory Board members, who are also current Friendship Families.  FFP Advisory Board members are: Carolyn and Milton Frye, Carola Lea, Mimi Lichtenstein, and Don Foster.

If you have further questions or any difficulties completing the Friendship Family forms on this website, please contact the current Friendship Family Program Student Coordinator, Melanie Zaraska, via e-mail at, or call the Assistant Dean and Advisor to International Students at (603) 646-2331.

We look forward to meeting you soon! 

International Friendship Family Program in the News

Last Updated: 8/14/17