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Program seeking holiday hosts for international students

There is no better way to promote peace than to reach out to citizens of other nations, says Enrique Chacon. That’s why the international student advisor gets excited about the Host for the Holidays program.

“It’s an opportunity for students from around the world to learn about Canadians, and for people here in Windsor to gain an understanding of other cultures as well,” he says.

Now in its fourth year, the program places international students with Windsor families willing to open their homes to guests for a holiday dinner. Chacon says the students are interested in joining a typical family celebration, so hosts should not go to a lot of extra trouble.

“One extra seat around the table is all it takes,” he says. “They are interested in seeing how you celebrate, so you shouldn't change the way you enjoy the holiday—whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or the winter solstice.”

Coordinator Eric Mui has approached previous volunteers to participate again this year.

“Since Christmas is on a Tuesday this year, we are asking hosts to choose from four different dates, December 23 to 26,” he says. “We hope this will make things more flexible for the hosts and the students.”

He will match host families with guests based on a number of factors—dietary preferences, tolerance for pets, timing of the meal, and even convenience of transportation—and inform participants the week before.

“Previously, we have received feedback stating that we should do the matching process earlier,” Mui says. “It is a good idea but because most students are spontaneous, they may decide to change their plans and commit to something else.”

Application forms for prospective hosts are available on the Web site of the International Student Centre at http://webapps.uwindsor.ca/international/holidays/forms/host/.