Community Friends

OISS coordinates programs that provide international students, scholars, and their family members the opportunity to connect with members of the Yale and New Haven  communities, learn more about U.S. culture, improve language ability, and make new friends. While each program has a different focus, all were created with the aim of encouraging cross-cultural exchange and friendship. The Yale and greater New Haven communities have a lot to offer and a lot to gain by participating in these programs. OISS would love to welcome you as a volunteer!

Yale Community Friends

Community Friends of Yale International Students matches Yale international freshmen with local hosts who provide an introduction to U.S. culture and to the New Haven area. Hosts and students keep in touch throughout the academic year and meet occasionally to share a meal or activity, planting the seeds for a potentially life-long friendship.

What do we look for in a Community Friends volunteer?

We look for members of the Yale community who are friendly, curious, and empathetic to the needs of newly arrived international students, who are interested in the prospect of cross-cultural exchange right here in the heart of New Haven!  The Community Friends program is not a home stay program - the students are living on campus.  And the commitment is not very time consuming - you both get together when you have free time. 

How can I sign up?

Please fill out the questionnaire provided below! We'll follow up shortly after that.

Sign-up to be a Community Friend for the upcoming academic year


What can Community Friends and international students do together?

New Haven and the state of Connecticut offer a huge choice of things to do- many activities are free or inexpensive. Here are some ideas of things that you could to with your student:

  • Invite the student over for dinner, a picnic or a holiday celebration.
  • Meet up for lunch, coffee or ice-cream.
  • Take a short day trip to a CT coastal town, or historical landmark.
  • Go for a hike.
  • Visit the Peabody Museum or Yale Art Gallery.
  • Participate in a volunteer activity together.
  • Watch a sports event or attend a school play.
  • Ask the student to share his or her culture with you.
  • Attend an OISS activity or event together.
  • Skiing, sledding, or skating.
  • Attend a local fair or community celebration.

When does the matching take place? Is there a deadline?

OISS typically matches Community Friends for the start of the Fall semester, so if you would like to be matched up with students arriving in  August, we recommend that you sign up by the end of July. If you happen to miss the deadline, or we don’t have a match immediately available for you, we will hold on to your application until a match can be made.

Can I refer someone to be a Community Friend volunteer?

Certainly! Feel free to share this page on social media, or email our coordinator (see below) to let us know about a prospective volunteer.

How does this program impact the Yale and New Haven community?

Our office strives to provide a welcoming environment to all our international students, scholars and their families. For a brief introduction about the impact that our various volunteer services have had in the lives of our participants, please take a look at a recent article written by Mike Cummings (Yale News) titled 'International students and scholars find friendship and community at Yale' (May 20, 2016).