Family Friendship Program.


Family Friendship Program

A partnership with the Madison community and International Student Services at Drew University

The Family Friendship Program pairs international students from Drew University with Madison families. Through casual outings and interactions between paired families and students, not only do we expose the students to American culture and American ways of life; we also give participating families a chance to learn from the cultural diversity and unique perspectives that these young men and women from across the world bring to our community.

Participating families are asked to meet with their paired student once or twice a semester to share low or no cost activities that give students the chance to experience life in Madison and the surrounding area.

The program is kicked off every Fall over a structured Meet & Greet event at the Tilghman International Student Center on Drew’s campus. Students and families meet for the first time, chat, get to know each another, exchange contact information, and discuss ideas regarding when and what to do together during the academic year.

Application Process

To apply to be a participating student, please visit the Tilghman International Student Center or contact Max Zhang at

To apply to be a participating family, please fill out the application form here. Your answers will be used to best match our students with your family.

Family Photos

[Cohort of Fall 2018 – Spring 2019]

[Cohort of Fall 2017 – Spring 2018]

Activity Ideas

To offer you a bit more context to the program, below are some events that previous participating families did with their paired students:

  • Dinner at their home
  • A walk downtown
  • High school sporting events
  • Holiday celebrations
  • Bottle Hill Day
  • Shopping excursions to Route 10
  • Family Volunteering Trip
  • Apple Picking and Pie Making

Cross-family Events

We are especially grateful for families, recognized below, who went above and beyond in organizing large events that they invited all students and families in the Family Friendship Program to. These cross-family events not only are of great fun but also help bond the local families together and really create a community around Drew international students and meaningful cultural exchange.

Here is a picture from the party that Jim and Sara Burnet organized at their house, where Mayor Bob of Madison also honored us with his presence and excited a lot of the students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are some frequently asked questions. If you have any further questions or would like more information about the program, please contact Max Zhang at

What is expected of the Friendship Families?

Friendship families are expected to meet with their student once or twice during an academic semester. Events should be low cost or no cost and can be in your home or in the community.

What is NOT expected of Friendship Families?

Friendship families are NOT expected to:

  • Spend money on their students. If students are invited to events with admission fees or other costs, please clarify with your student if money is required.
  • Families are not expected to provide housing for their students.
  • Families are not expected to provide frequent transportation. Many families are happy to occasionally help out with transportation but this is not the purpose of the program.

How are families and students matched?

We consider preferences and interests expressed by both students and families. Students who are new to Drew and who would benefit from a family connection are given priority.

Is my student fluent in English?

Students who participate in the Family and Friendship program are taking a combination of drew university courses and English for academic purposes. You may find yourself having to use different words to express your meaning. But, you will find it generally easy to communicate with your student.

Can two families share one student?

Yes! Typical pairings will consist of one student and one family. However, we will accommodate students who want to meet more than one family and families who wish to share students.

Student Testimonial

Yumika Tsuchihira

"I'm an international student from Japan. I'm studying chemistry, and I have been a student here since Summer 2017. I came to Drew to discover my dreams, and I also wanted to learn English and experience a different culture.

I joined the FFP with my friend, and it was so fun! My host family friend, Elaine, prepared so many events that I enjoyed. These included a Christmas party at her house - we made a gingerbread house, crafted jewelry, and so on.

This program was a good opportunity to learn and experience American culture, and the families are so nice and kind. I really appreciate how much they have done for me."