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Welcome to the Global Lehigh Family Friendship Program!

The Family Friendship Program (FFP) creates lasting connections by pairing new international students with caring Lehigh faculty and staff.  It's all about fostering friendships and a sense of belonging for those students far from home.  For international students, it's a chance to immerse themselves in U.S. culture and the Lehigh Valley be joining a welcoming local family.  And for hosts, it's an opportunity to expand global perspectives while forming deep bonds with our new international students.

This is not a homestay program. FFP encourages hosts to engage with their assigned student(s) at least once a month throughout the academic year, offering a delightful opportunity to share traditions, holidays, events, and casual meals. We also encourage our international students to reciprocate by sharing their own cultures and participating in various cultural events with their family friendship hosts whenever possible.  We also encourage our international students to reciprocate by sharing their own cultures and participaing in various cultural events with their family friendship hosts whenever possible. 


Section 1

Who are the participants in the program?

FFP hosts include Lehigh faculty members, administrators, and staff members, as well as retired faculty and staff living in the Lehigh Valley area. Hosts may be single individuals, couples, partners, or families with children of various ages. Any new international undergraduate and graduate students admitted to Lehigh University starting their studies in Fall 2024 will be able to apply to participate in the program. 

Each host will be paired with one or two international students (based on host survey selections and the number of students who apply), with the goal of fostering cross-cultural connections and friendships.


Section 2

What does the matching process look like?

Our program participants will be matched based on shared interests and preferences provided in the application form, to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, we kindly ask the participants to be thorough and thoughtful as you complete your application, as this information will be applied to create suitable matches. Once matched, relevant information will be shared with both parties involved.

Section 3

How long does the program last?

The program spans the academic year, running from September to May. This timeframe provides ample opportunity for participants to develop meaningful relationships, engage in cultural exchange activities, and support one another throughout the academic year. Regular meetings between FFP hosts and international friends are encouraged; we ask each pair to meet at least once per month.  We hope that FFP hosts and the student(s) they are matched with will continue to maintain their friendship even after the formal program is over!

Section 4

What are the expectations for participants of FFP?

The program aims to establish social connections between our new international students and hosts from the Lehigh community. There is no homestay involved, and participants are not expected to incur any financial obligations. Paired participants will decide when and where they want to meet once a month to get to know each other, explore local events or holidays, and share cultural differences.

After participants submit their sign-up form, the schedule of information/training sessions will be communicated to them, and match results will be sent by the end of the second week of the fall semester. We encourage paired participants to have open discussions regarding the best way to communicate with each other and ensure responsiveness within a reasonable timeframe.

There are no financial obligations for participating in this program. There are plenty of free or relatively inexpensive activities to participate in, though some activities may involve a fee. There is no expectation for any participant to pay for others' fees or other costs for activities they engage in together. If hosts and students agree to participate in an activity that requires an entrance or ticket fee, we strongly encourage them to discuss in advance who will cover the cost.

We want to remind participants that the Policy on Harassment and Non-Discrimination applies to Lehigh faculty/staff members participating in this program, and the Code of Conduct and other university policies, including the Policy on Harassment and Non-Discrimination, apply to our students and their actions. 

If participants encounter any situations where they are unsure of what to do or require further information or assistance, please don't hesitate to contact our office at

Section 5

What kind of activities are recommended for with hosts and students meet?

The program kicks off with a Welcome Event in September, providing an opportunity for all participants to meet each other. Additionally, here are some activities to consider:

  • Attend a Lehigh Sports game (most tickets are free for students and faculty/staff!)
  • Enjoy a performance at Zoellner Arts Center
  • Share and learn each other's favorite recipes
  • Explore local parks through hiking
  • Share a home-cooked meal or dine at a local restaurant together
  • Celebrate holidays together
  • Share and learn each other's cultural traditions
  • Engage in seasonal activities such as visiting location markets, farms, or festivals
  • Participate in our Annual International Bazaar and other organized activities
  • Explore historic tours and sites in the Lehigh Valley Area

We remind program participants that this is not a homestay program, and we advise them to avoid engaging in the following activities, which will be emphasized during our training sessions:

  • Discussing financial matters
  • Inquiries related to immigration/work opportunties
  • Medical issues
  • Academic challenges

We will provide resources to our host family friends to assist whem in directing students in need to appropriate support/resources.

Are you ready to apply?

Sign up here to become an FFP host (application closes June 25, 2024).  As we reintroduce the Family Friendship Program during the 2024-25 academic year, we will limit the number of hosts to 20, with the goal of scaling the program in coming years.

The sign-up for to international students and scholars will open on August 1st, 2024 

Please contact Linnan Tartaglia at if you have any questions about the program or the application/matching process.