January 14, 2016  

Host-A-Boiler program success is opportunity to build more 'International Friendships'

Host a Boiler

Purdue graduate students Fanhao Nie (far left) and Smith Nkhata (far right) were two of the more than 231 students who participated in the Host-A-Boiler program. These graduate students were hosted during the winter break by Dean Brusnighan (not pictured), his wife, Anita (middle left), and daughter, Marina (middle right). (Photo provided)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Thanks to dozens of local families and individuals, more than 251 Purdue University students were able to spend time during the recent holiday breaks with families while thousands of miles away from their own families.

Area residents still interested in similar experiences are encouraged to sign up for the International Friendship program, which provides opportunities through the school year for host families and individuals to interact with international students.

There is still a need for singles and families to host for the International Friendship program. Those interested in more information can contact Beth Tucker at friendship@purdue.edu. Currently the program is looking for new hosts to match with 55 international students who have just arrived in the U.S. from eight countries.  

The Host-A-Boiler program was launched this fall to match host families and individuals with students who were not able to travel home during Thanksgiving or winter breaks. During the Thanksgiving break, 117 students were matched with 66 hosts; during the winter break, 134 students and scholars were matched with 63 hosts.

"Even a handful of American students who were not able to travel home were able to spend time with local families as part of this program," said Michael Brzezinski, dean of International Programs. "We are very pleased with the community support. About half of the hosts were Purdue faculty or staff, and the others were from the community at large."

One of the hosts for the winter break was Purdue employee Dean Brusnighan, an ITaP assistive technology specialist, and his wife, Anita. They hosted two graduate students on Dec. 28.

"We liked the idea of the program because so many international students are not able to go home during winter break," Dean said. "The students hear it's a time to celebrate with family, but they are away from theirs. We encourage others to participate in it to learn about other cultures and help these students experience what American life is like."

The Brusnighans, along with their daughter, hosted Fanhao Nie from China, and Smith Nkhata from Malawi. Nie, a third-year doctorate student in sociology, and Nkhata, a first-year graduate student in food science, joined the family for indoor mini-golf and then visited the family at their home for an American meal of chili.

This is Nkhata's first-year at Purdue.

"It was really wonderful and I would love to participate in this program again," Nkhata said. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Michael Brzezinski, 765-494-9399, mbrzezinski@purdue.edu 

Beth Tucker, intercultural programs specialist, 765-494-9225, btucker1@purdue.edu 

Reporters interested in speaking to Host-A-Boiler participants can contact Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue News Service, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purude.edu

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