Would you enjoy a unique opportunity to share our American way of life while becoming more globally aware? Wabash College will welcome 13 international freshmen to campus in mid-August, bringing the total number of international students to 52. These freshmen come from 11 countries throughout the globe, including Mexico, China, Nepal, Mongolia, Morocco, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Romania, India and Malaysia. The Wabash Community Friends program invites you, families or individuals, to host one of these students.

International students adjust to college life in a small town more easily when host families welcome them. Students live on campus, but host families provide opportunities for students to experience American culture and local customs. In turn, the students provide local families with a glimpse into foreign cultures, beliefs, and traditions.

Students are eager to know more about our American lifestyle and appreciate being part of a host family. They enjoy being in a family environment, having home cooked meals, watching movies, playing games, going to cultural or athletic events, hiking, etc. There are many free on-campus opportunities for host families and sons to spend time together — plays, art exhibits, lectures, musical performances, athletic events and more. In many cases, Wabash’s international students never get to go home during their four years in Crawfordsville, which makes involvement by Community Friends especially important.

Geraldine “Gerry” Turner, who served as the coordinator of the Community Friends program for many years, recently retired. Her energy, organization and dedication contributed richly to the program, and Wabash College faculty and staff, current international students, international alumni and Community Friends members are extremely grateful for her service and wish her all the best in her retirement. Eileen Bowen will serve as the new coordinator for the program and is looking forward to continuing its important work.

Many of the host families have established long-standing relationships with their host sons. Sheila Evans, together with her late husband Bob and now as an individual, has hosted a number of students over the years. 

“We have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being host parents,” Evans said. “We have met and kept up with many wonderful young men through the years. Several have returned to visit us. We’ve also learned a lot about their homelands — China, Vietnam and Bangladesh.”

Jerry Whipkey has enjoyed taking part in the program. 

“The benefit of hosting students gives me an excuse to visit places and events I may not normally attend,” Whipkey said. “This school year I’ve taken my student to Monument Circle, Notre Dame and Taste of Tippecanoe. We saw a parade in Carmel and attended Symphony on the Prairie for a concert and fireworks on his first Fourth of July. He has invited me to celebrations at Wabash such as Lunar New Year where I learned about his customs, music and food. 

“The most enjoyable part is making occasional trips to Lafayette or Indianapolis to dine out and shop at an international grocery store. During these trips, we get to know more about each other and our countries. If I can figure out how to fill a need for my student, I feel I’ve made our country a little bit more like home. The biggest reward is watching my students receive academic awards, seeing them graduate and finally meeting their family. They are so far from home, so the little things I do to help ensure their success are a pleasure to me.”

Mike and Terry Swift, former Crawfordsville residents, befriended a number of international students from Wabash, and both agree that the relationships endure long after the students leave the College.

Interested families can contact Bowen by email at bowene@wabash.edu or call 765-267-2010; Amy Weir, director of International Programs by email at weira@wabash.edu or call 765-361-6078; or Linda Weaver, senior administrative assistant to the Dean for College Advancement by email at weaverl@wabash.edu or 765-361-6365.

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