Virginia Commonwealth University
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“Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.” – Rod McKuen

Students talkingGEO offers Americans from the university and local community the chance to befriend international students studying at VCU. More than 75 percent of all international students in the U.S. never enter an American home during their stay.

This can be a difficult and lonely time for international students as they adjust to a new culture and language while being away from family and friends. Through this enriching experience, deep friendships have developed and continued after a student’s formal education has been completed.

» Sign up to become an American volunteer [PDF]

Open to individuals and families, the volunteer program provides several options to suit the needs of the student and the host. For more information about how to be placed in a program or how to volunteer, please contact Pam Haney or Abigail Trumbo at (804) 828-0808 or visit the office at 817 W. Franklin St.

  • Conversation partner
    For one semester, an international student meets for one hour each week with an American volunteer to practice his/her English speaking skills. No foreign language or tutoring skills are required.
    » Volunteer [PDF]
    » Student request [PDF]
  • Friendship families
    A student and single individual/family are matched for the school year. Frequency of contact may vary, but in most cases the student will visit the individual/family once a month. This is a casual time and may include dinner in the volunteer’s home or an outing together. Phone contact between visits is encouraged. Applications can be emailed directly to Elizabeth Hiett at
    » Volunteer [PDF]
    » Student request [PDF]
  • Host family
    The student lives with the host family for eight to 16 weeks, while acclimating to this new environment. Expenses for room and board will be paid by the student and they will provide their own transportation. Entry points for new students in the English Language Program are in January, March, June, August and October. Academic students begin their studies in either August or January.
    » Volunteer [PDF]
    » Student request [PDF]
  • Holiday visit
    A student is invited into a home in order to experience a typical American holiday, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4, etc. This activity is more comfortable if two students join the festivities together.
    » Volunteer (Thanksgiving Day) [PDF]
    » Student request [PDF]
    » Student request (Thanksgiving Day) [PDF]
  • International coffee hour
    Students, staff and community visitors gather weekly for a time of socializing and refreshments. It is a time for students to meet and develop friendships with classmates and Americans in a casual setting. Everyone is welcome at this weekly event.

Student volunteer opportunities

International students value the opportunity to offer their volunteer services to assist those in need. VCU student organizations, service-learning through classes and local community groups provide a variety of volunteer options. 

International students not only help others, but also work alongside other student and community volunteers, learn more about American culture and use their English language skills.

For more information, please contact Amanda Velez at

» Sign up to become a volunteer [PDF]

2013 Volunteer Reception