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Remember the hungry; take action  February 1st, 2012

I started to notice my social class for the first time at the age of ten. This all happened after visiting my elementary school friend. Her house was twice, or maybe three times bigger than the little apartment I lived in. She had her own room, while I had to share rooms with my siblings. She had a yard, two dogs, and a cat. I longed to have a pet, but was not allowed to, due to the small space in our apartment.

That day when I went home, I started to notice how small our apartment was; for the very first time, I felt poor. I know I had everything I needed. I never went to sleep hungry like my parents did when they were little, but I knew that I was “different.” In my ten year-old way, I began learning about social class.

This experience brought to mind a time when my mother took my siblings and myself to Guatemala.

Some children there had no shoes and were begging for food. I remember there were children that worked cleaning car windows. According to the World Food Programme website, “There are more hungry people in the world than the combined population of U.S., Canada and the European Union.”

Visiting Guatemala opened my eyes. It was shocking to me to know there are so many people living in poverty and it made me more aware of the plight of the hungry in the U.S. as well.

Even though poverty in the US is not as visible in most communities as in other countries, this doesn’t mean we don’t have people living in poverty. The poor live in all countries, but there is one thing they share in common: the feeling of hunger.
Growing up, I never faced hunger, like my parents did when they first arrived to California from Mexico.

At the time they had difficulty finding a job and struggled to survive by only eating inexpensive ramen noodles. Like my parents once did, there are a lot of people here in the United States that struggle to put food on their table.

Poverty can even be found close to home in Benton County. Benton County reports that 18 percent of people are living below the poverty level according to a census taken in 2009; that is almost 1 in 5 people. These numbers represent people living in our community and many students.

Did you know that in 2010, 17.2 million households(approximately 1 in 7), were food insecure; the highest number ever recorded in the United States according to the latest government report released by Hunger Notes in September 2010.

There are many things we can do to fight against hunger. Even small things such as can drives in schools, jobs, and communities can make a big difference.

If you are interested in helping out you can visit our local campus OSU Emergency Food Pantry located in the Snell Hall International Form on campus. To learn more please visit their website or follow them on Twitter @FoodPantryOSU and be sure to check out the OSU Food Drive events happening this month.

Angelica Perez, Community Relations Facilitator

Take action if you suspect alcohol poisoning!  February 1st, 2012

Signs and symptoms:

C. cold

U. unconscious

S. slow breating

P. pale

Appropriate action:

1. Stay calm and assess the situation;

2. Call 911 and stay with the victim;

3. Roll the victim onto their side and maintain position until emergency aid arrives.

Tips to reduce risks from alcohol:

  • Plan ahead and set a responsible limit and stick to it. Aim to keep blood alcohol level (BAL) .055%-.066% or less.
  • Try drinks that contain less or no alcohol.
  • Eat before you drink.
  • Slow down. It takes about 20 minutes for you to feel the effects of a single drink.
  • Measure. Know how much alcohol there is in your drink and keep track of the total number of drinks you are consuming.
  • Drink water before, during and after drinking alcohol.
  • Check your mood. Alcohol intensifies mood. Avoid drinking if you feel angry or depressed.
  • Avoid drinking games.

Reducing risk with alcohol and sex

  • Unwanted or unprotected sex often occurs under the influence of alcohol.
  • On dates or at parties, be selective about when and how you drink.
  • Alcohol does NOT improve sexual performance or enjoyment. Nor does it make you more attractive, funnier or a better dancer.
  • Look out for your friends.
  • The best intention to use condoms or other latex protection is inhibited by alcohol.
  • Depending on how much alcohol someone has consumed, they may not be able to give consent. Sober sex is safer sex.


Information from IMPACT Substance Abuse Prevention Program. For more information, contact the Health Promotion Department at 541-737-7552.

The importance of breakfast  January 18th, 2012

As college students, life is sometimes a little rushed, often un-predictable, and usually stressful. During times of uncertainty one thing is for sure, we need to eat. We need to nourish, refuel, and replenish our bodies and minds in order to tackle life as college students. When schedules get a little crazy eating is sometimes overlooked or pushed to the side. Remember when your parents would say, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day?” Well if you do, there is substantial research that provides evidence that this saying is accurate when it comes to health, weight maintenance, and cognitive function.
Upon awaking after a night of sleeping there is a physiological need to replenish the body’s energy or blood sugar stores. By consuming breakfast the body is able to replenish its diminished stores, as a result, providing it with energy. But when breakfast is skipped your body cannot replenish itself and may try to get energy elsewhere such as your muscles. As some of you know from experience which I can attest to as well, having a reduction in energy may lead to decreased ability to think and remember clearly and energy to engage in physical activity.
Researchers suggest that when breakfast is skipped there is a tendency to overeat later in the day or consume an unhealthy snack. Studies have gathered a correlation between breakfast skippers and their body mass index (BMI), an indicator of body fat, being higher than those who consume breakfast. In other words, if you are trying to maintain or loss weight skipping breakfast is not a healthy solution. By eating more frequent meals it can assist the body’s ability to utilize energy and lower BMI. No one enjoys that rollercoaster feeling of high and low energy spurts; keep your energy levels coasting by eating 3-5 small meals throughout the day.
There is a slight catch, not all breakfast foods are made equal, and the type of breakfast can have a difference on the overall quality of the diet. Choosing a carbohydrate dense, moderate-high fiber food such as a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal or cooked cereals (like oatmeal, cream of wheat, or grits) paired with fruit is a great way to keep you satiated and full longer. Fiber is a beneficial part of a healthy diet that may prevent the development of certain diseases and keep things moving smoothly. It is recommended that women get 28 grams and men get 35 grams of fiber a day. Look for cereals that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and less than 5 grams of sugar per serving such as cheerios, raisin brain, and shredded wheat-originals. In addition to cold and cooked cereals some great breakfast foods include:

  • Low fat yogurt with fruit or granola (check the label and look for low fat, low sugar varieties)
  • String cheese and crackers
  • Pancake or waffle with peanut butter
  • Whole wheat bagel with fruit spread or nut/seed butters
  • Veggie omelet (the more veggies the better)
  • English muffin with a poached egg
  • Made to order breakfast burritos at Arnold and McNary (choose ham + lots of veggies)

All these foods can be found at any of the campus dining centers. With the start of the new year make it a priority to eat breakfast. You are not only energizing yourself but you are creating a positive health behavior for life. Refresh, refuel, and BeWell.

By Natasha Luff, Dietetic Intern, OSU

Works Cited

1. Breaking the Fast; The Timing and The Contents of Breakfast Make it Perhaps the Most Important Meal of the Day. (2011). Harvard Health Letter. Retrieved from
2. Cho, S., Dietrich, M., Brown, C., Clark, C., et al (2003). The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(NHANES III). J Am Coll Nutr (22.4) 296-302.
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010
4. Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home. (2011). Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Online

Managing mood with healthy behaviors  December 1st, 2011

As we have all experienced, college is a busy time of life. It’s important to make the most of your time in college, enjoying freedom and friends and accomplishing your goals and graduating. With so much going on, it’s understandable that many people deal with stress and anxiety over piles of homework and midterms or relationship stress from friends, family and boyfriends or girlfriends. Some may also feel more depressed being far from family or loved ones and as we enter into the darker, colder months of the year.

The good news is that it’s easier than you think to combat these moods and feelings! It’s not a gimmick or quick fix pill, just three healthy behaviors you can easily and slowly incorporate into your schedule: exercise, sleep, and healthy eating.

Exercise releases our feel good hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine and can also improve your sleep.1 Some great choices are walking, yoga, or Tai chi. OSU offers yoga, tai chi, and walking PAC classes2 and Dixon offers yoga classes. For those who desire more interactive forms of exercise some options include joining an intramural sports team, taking a team sport PAC class, or going to a fitpass class at Dixon.3

Sleep and mood have been found to be closely associated: sleep can affect your mood and your mood can affect how you sleep.4 Although it may be challenging, try making it a priority to sleep at least 7-8 hours a few times a week. As you have probably experienced, a good rest can take your mood from sluggish and cranky to refreshed and confident, leaving you ready to tackle your day!

Here are some Good Sleep Habits to ensure a restful sleep: 5

  • Create a pre-sleep routine to relax & prepare your body for sleep
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep
  • Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • Avoid napping close to your bed time
  • Refrain from eating or drinking too much before going to bed

Healthy eating can directly affect how you feel: a balanced diet can help you feel mentally alert & energized, but a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can make you feel drained. Incorporate these mood boosters into your meals to provide you with consistent energy throughout the day: whole grains, foods with fiber, like fruits and vegetables, and lean protein.

Try to limit sugar and refined carbohydrates like white bread & bagels, cookies, cake, candy bars, and crackers. These mood killers may give you instant energy, but not consistent energy, making you crash and burn.6

Some healthy eating suggestions:

  • Whole wheat sandwich with turkey & cheddar.
  • Whole wheat tortilla with beans, guacamole, & salsa.
  • Low fat yogurt with whole grain granola
  • Apple slices or celery sticks & peanut butter
  • Oatmeal with sliced banana

Everyone has their own busy schedule and everybody is unique, so try out the different tips and find out what works for you. Incorporate them into your week until they become healthy habits that will improve your mood!

Danielle Swearingen, Senior dietetic student volunteer

Christian calendar makes for easier holidays… for some  November 30th, 2011

Leading into this “Holiday Season”, I start to think about how grateful I am that Christmas is observed by the school calendar. I have so much planning to do to make sure that I see all of my relatives, go to Christmas Eve service, and get all of my shopping done. All this hustle and bustle over one of my favorite holidays makes me start thinking about holidays for other religions and cultures.  I mean, should we even call this time the “Holiday Season” when there are so many people that do not celebrate any holidays during this time? Are there not many more holiday seasons for the multiple cultures and religions represented in the US? What I have realized is that many students still have to go to school and worry about homework and tests during their important cultural and religious holidays. If Christmas was not a recognized holiday it would undoubtedly bring in more stress and affect my religion’s most important holiday.

I cannot even imagine having to study for a test that would take place on Christmas day or having a project that is due on Easter, but there are people that attend OSU where this is a reality. An example for fall term is Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah which is October 20-21 and is supposed to be a nonworking holiday for the Jewish community. Another is Birth of Baha’u’llah on November 12 and is supposed to be a nonworking day for the Baha’i community. To learn more OSU observed holidays click here and to learn more about other religious holidays not observed by most school calendars click here. I have learned there are many holidays that take place throughout the academic year, yet our campus does not observe them as official holidays. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to ask a professor to reschedule a test or give me an extension on a project for a religious or cultural holiday. However, since I am a practicing Christian, and the academic calendar is shaped around the major Christian Holidays, this is something that I will never have to face. Therefore, I feel that I have an academic advantage as a result, which I see as unfair.

I am grateful that my holiday is observed, but how can people who observe other holidays gain access to necessary resources or be allowed the same grace as I with assignments or tests? This is where I can see that I am indeed privileged. It is so normative in the U.S. to celebrate Christmas and have “Christmas Break” off from school. Do you have privilege here as well? I am sure I am not the only one who has had this misconception. Trying to schedule a family get together, make sure I get my essential meals, and making sure that I am being successful in school would push me to the wall. Is there something that can be stated or included for students who celebrate major holidays during the school year to give them the respect that I would want?

— Kameron Beeks, Community Relations Facilitator

See the CRF website to learn more about the CRF Program and how to get involved.

New and featured dishes!  November 22nd, 2011

Casa Della Pasta in McNary Dining Center has a new entrée: The Bene Vita Bowl.

It’s fresh, healthy and sustainable. The Bene Vita Bowl features plant-based ingredients such as beans, grains and vegetables. This hearty entrée is satisfying to most palates.

ALL the Bene Vita bowls are vegetarian and there are also gluten free and vegan options.

Stop by and try a sample at a tasting table event from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, in McNary Dining Hall.

Also, Casa Della Pasta will be featuring a Northwest Hazelnut Pesto Pasta from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 for lunch (11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and dinner (5 to 7:30 p.m.).

Northwest Hazelnut Pesto Pasta is made with toasted Oregon hazelnuts, fresh parsley and blue cheese. This dish is the perfect blend of savory flavors that will leave you delightfully satisfied.

Stop by the tasting table and try it for yourself from 11 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29. 

Natasha Luff, Dietetic Intern, University Housing & Dining Services

Become a student of you  November 17th, 2011

Throughout my undergraduate experience, I have learned a lot about myself and my culture. Before coming to Oregon State University, I had no idea there was a “me” to explore. My identity was something I never bothered to “discover.”

Now I understand identity it is much more important than I realized. My identity is not only who I am but also what I stand for because of my values. Thinking back, I can rationalize that I never placed real importance on my identity because I did not know what it meant. Now, I can only imagine how many other first-year students did not and do not know the meaning of identity as well.

In my K-12 education, I do not remember ever learning about myself or where I came from in any class. As a young Latina, I was curious to learn more about my history. I was finally given the opportunity to learn more about my culture at OSU; it was an opportunity I was hungry to explore. I took classes that were never offered in high school such as ethics of diversity through the philosophy department, sociology, and anthropology, where I was introduced to the topic of identity. I was glad to engage the topic but did not anticipate that it would also cause much confusion and anxiety.

As a Student of Color, I hated talking about my identity because I felt I didn’t know how to identify my multiethnic identities. Not knowing my identity made me feel like I had no past; I was ignoring my ancestors.  I felt like a tree that had no roots. I also started to realize that my identity consists of what makes me unique as an individual and different from others. I started to realize how important it was when I would talk about myself. Even answering a question such as, “where are you from?” was difficult for me to answer.

The process of identifying myself made me feel closer to my family because I was honoring them by learning where we came from and where our values are rooted. It also made me realize how much I have grown and learned at OSU. As a Community Relations Facilitator, I have picked up on several helpful tools that have helped me understand my identity and how I can help others in their own process of self-discovery.

It was a challenge for me to realize I was missing pieces of myself, but I am glad I am working towards finding all of the pieces of my identity.  I know classes I took helped me to reflect on my identity and on how I would identify myself to others. I feel these courses could help many other students who wish to explore their own identities.

If you are interested in exploring this topic, I recommend that you look courses that are offered in departments such as ethnic studies, philosophy, anthropology, women studies, and sociology. I encourage you to discover the courses, workshops  and events offered by these departments. I know courses from these departments have made a difference in my life; I hope they can inspire you to explore your identities as well.

Thanks for reading,

Angelica Perez, Community Relations Facilitator

Multiracial in a ‘this’ or ‘that’ world  November 17th, 2011

As a Student of Color I have given much thought to the topic of racial identity. However, as a self-identified Chicano/Latino I admit I have not challenged myself to reflect on bi-racial or multi-racial identities. In high school I thought of race as what you would check on the identity box when taking the SAT’s, or any other state testing. Only recently have these identification forms allowed you to check more than one “racial box” or to state that you are multiracial. Like these forms I, too, had a binary way of thinking about race; in my mind you were either “this” or “that.”

During spring term of 2011 I decided to take a philosophy class titled “Ethics of Diversity”, which really sparked my interest in learning more about many topics around social justice.  This class talked about many issues like race, oppression, sexism, LGBT identities, etc. Towards the end of the term we began to discuss bi-racial and multi-racial identities. During this class the professor hosted a panel of students who identified as being bi-racial or multi-racial to speak on their experiences. When I got home that afternoon I saw an email from a student who was part of the panel. With his consent, I will share the email he sent to the class:


I would like to preface my statement by clarifying that it is not my intention to dismiss anyone or to attack them for their thoughts. These views come from my experiences and should not be used as a generalization for everyone.

I left the panel yesterday feeling very angry and resentful. Walking through campus, I could not pinpoint the center of my uneasy feelings, unable to locate the reason for which I was so unsettled by what happened. The issues discussed very well described what it meant to be bi- or multi-racial; but only a portion of what goes on. I felt as if the class was left with the idea that being multi-racial/ bi-racial meant being able to pick and choose which side we wanted to present: to be one, the other, or both when convenient.

It means a lot more.

  • For some it means to be both always, forced with the inability to escape duality.
  • It means not being able to pass completely for one or the other.
  • It means to be Mexican and White at all times, for better or for worse, and to understand this and accept the consequences.
  • It means to be mad at the world when you are rejected for one side, and then mad at yourself when you fail to speak up for the other.
  • It means to be told that you are both the oppressor and the oppressed.
  • It means to always be a minority, regardless of who you are with.
  • It means to be admired for your ability to seamlessly cross between two worlds, and then hated for the same reason.
  • It means to bottle up all your hurt for lack of anyone who understands you.
  • It means that when you are unable to represent both cultures fully, you are seen as culturally ignorant instead of culturally unaware.
  • It means to constantly try to acculturate to both sides and always be seen as assimilating.
  • It is like your different sides staring at each other through a two-way mirror, screaming and banging and shaking to break free and join each other in a society that keeps them separated.
  • But it also means to not only have to the power to “check” multiple boxes, but have the opportunity to embrace and express the cultures that you check.
  • It means you can speak Spanish at one home and English at the other.
  • It means you can share in the sorrows and happiness of two worlds.
  • It means you are blessed with a curse and cursed with a blessing.
  • It means you can find meaning in double the things.
  • It means you see life from many different eyes.
  • It means you can build bridges.

Thank You for your Time,

Agustin Vega-Peters

The class discussion and Agustin’s email were very insightful; it completely changed my way of viewing race. I began to reflect on the complexity of the concept of race. I was awakened to no longer see race as being “this” or “that” in an exclusionary manner. I now understood why my bi- and multiracial friends had a hard time when I asked, “what race do you relate to more?” or “which one of the two races do you identify as?” These questions assumed that they can separate their lives into imaginary compartments. I realized that my lack of awareness may have made my friends uncomfortable and my questions could have even been hurtful. Becoming more aware of this issue allowed me to think of how I can become an ally and be more inclusive to people who identify as bi-and multiracial. I actively remind myself to embrace and appreciate the whole individual for who they are and what they represent, rather than breaking down an individual into distinct characteristics that have no connection. I encourage you to reflect on your understanding of bi- and multiracial identities. How can you help create a more inclusive living environment in your residence hall for people who identify as bi- and multiracial?

If you wish to learn more about identity and other related topics, contact your Community Relations Facilitator (CRF) or participate in facilitations offered by CRFs in your residence hall.

Thank you for reading,

Miguel Arellano, Community Relations Facilitator

Social justice is not ‘one-size-fits-all’  November 4th, 2011

My experience in the world of social justice, diversity, and inclusion has evolved greatly over the past year and a half that I have been a Community Relations Facilitator (CRF). Before coming to college, I went to Sherwood High School which is in a suburb of Portland that is very much predominantly White.

In fact, my school’s population was 95 percent White, and my mother, step father, and brother are all White as well. The demographics of my high school were coupled with a lack of awareness on topics of social justice and inclusion.  When I first came to Oregon State University (OSU), I was shell-shocked by the relative racial and ethnic diversity of the campus. I had never been around so many people from so many different cultures or backgrounds in my life. It was at this moment I realized I had the option to choose how I would to react to this new environment.

As a first-year student, I was a person who was “color-blind”, “gender-blind”, etc. I did not want to identify the differences between people or notice the institutionalized oppression that was occurring around me. I just wanted everyone to be treated “the same”.

As a result, a problem started to form. There is a big difference between equality and equity. I started to realize if I treated people equally, I would have to treat everyone the same despite their differences. In my attempt to make sense of this concept I found it helpful to think of analogies. Treating everyone the same would mean that if I were to buy shoes for everyone in the world, I would have to buy everyone the same sized shoe. I would not account for differences or identities; the idea seemed ridiculous to me in this context I realized that if I were to want to treat people with respect, it would require me to notice difference.

In other words, I would have to understand that different shoe sizes would be a necessity to create equity. Instead of helping make change for identities that are oppressed and targeted, I was reinforcing the same institutionalized sexism, able-ism, etc. that I sought to resist by going with the status quo.

After recognizing my ignorance towards the differences between people, I started addressing these topics through a different lens. The next phase of my progression involved the idea of owning my privilege; this was about the time that I started working as a CRF. I started to realize that there is a significant difference between people based on their identities. These differences sometimes result in a societal advantage or disadvantage regarding access to resources.

A resource refers to job opportunities, money, living situations, tax breaks, and many other things. One example of advantages and disadvantages can be based on gender. Men are institutionally privileged in society compared to women, people who are transgender, and gender queer.

Take this brief example: As of 2010, men make $1.28 for every dollar a woman makes with the same credentials, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Understanding the world in this new lens allowed me to notice other differences in my own life. When I walk on campus at night, I never feel worried about my safety, yet I know many women on campus who do. Some of those women are very aware of their surroundings in an effort to protect themselves from sexual assault; something I am never challenged to think about in my daily life.

While I am grateful that I am more aware of my identities and difference, I know I have much more learning in my future. I am still working towards building more inclusive environments for all identities. I work and collaborate with the people of various underrepresented social groups to make Oregon State University a better place not just for them, but also for myself. The fact of the matter is that although OSU is much more diverse than my hometown, there is still a lot to be done to make this university more accepting and inclusive of its diverse population. Having different identities on campus is simply not enough. As I continue to work towards my personal commitments to social justice, I challenge you to think how you can start to do the same.

One great way to become more aware of diversity, inclusion and social justice is by connecting with the CRF Program! We are always here to help create space for exploration and learning through workshop facilitations and dialogues. CRFs host many events throughout the year specifically for UHDS residents. Look out for our event fliers, emails, and Facebook posts. Please visit our CRF website to learn more about the CRF Program and how to get involved.

Kameron Beeks, Community Relations Facilitator


Homestay hosts make it their life’s work to welcome students to U.S.  October 24th, 2011

Meet the Wilcoxs: Host parents Ed and Virginia Wilcox, far left and far right, pose in front of their home with, from left, Ahmed Al Duaghan, Ahmed Al Kadi and Saad Al Ruwaili, all students from Saudi Arabia that have lived with them while at Oregon State University to study English. “That’s been our life – reaching out to International students,” Virginia said. (Contributed photo)


Ed and Virginia Wilcox have shared their mobile home in south Corvallis with four different Saudi Arabian students in the last year for varying periods of time from a few days to half a year.

The couple takes part in University Housing & Dining Services’ Homestay Program, which offers international students a chance to immerse in American culture by living with a local host family.

“I’ve traveled abroad. I know how it feels,” said Virginia who spent long stints in Papua New Guinea and on the Pine Ridge American Indian Reservation with the Oglala Sioux when she was younger. “I’ve lived around other cultures more than my own, which has resulted in reverse culture shock a few times.”

Ed is not as well traveled, but said, “Some of my best friends in school were international students. … Reaching out to international students, it’s like the nations of the world are right here.”

“That’s been our life – reaching out to International students,” Virginia added.

In addition to participating in UHDS’ Homestay Program, the couple is also a member of a local group called Friends of Internationals.

The Wilcoxs have had students from more than 75 countries in their home over the years, hosting many a festive meal for scholars away from home.

A guest book going back 19 years sits on a shelf in the living room. Fourteen photo albums chronicle hundreds of celebrations as well as outings to the beach and mountains, first days and farewells.

A World Map on the Wilcox’s wall is riddled with push pins showing countries of origin. A ping pong table sits in the middle of one of the main rooms, a favorite pastime for recent students that have lived with them.

The Wilcoxs — married for 19 years — share a deep Christian faith. They met at Kings Circle Assembly of God as widowers 20 years ago.

In recent years, however, they’ve exclusively hosted Muslim young men from the Middle East, after hearing that they were a difficult population to place with host families because of prevailing negative stereotypes.

Over the last year, they’ve hosted four men from Saudi Arabia ranging in age from 18 to 25. Three happened to be named Ahmed — Ahmed Al Ghamdi, Ahmed Al Duaghan and Ahmed Al Kadi. The student that lived with them for the longest period of time was Saad Al Ruwaili, who said his English improved greatly through conversations with the Wilcoxs.

The Wilcoxs have proven to be great teachers in that area — willing to cover their home in sticky tabs to help their adopted sons learn vocabulary, if necessary. Virginia also has a background teaching English as a Second Language.

When communication gets difficult, the family heads to the computer to use Google Translate to get a point across.

As for the difference of faith, it has been more of a curiosity than a conflict, the Wilcoxs said. The family takes time to explain the significance of religious holidays and finds ecumenical ways to share them.

“We ask about their faith, they ask about ours,” Ed said. “We just live our lives. We don’t push.”

During 2010-11, 22 students from all over the world participated in the Homestay Program. Out of a roster of 28 local families, 10 shared a long-term placement with a student, and others hosted students for shorter stays.

The Homestay program started in 2008-2009, and grew out of a partnership between University Housing & Dining Services and INTO OSU – an Oregon State program designed to help international students earn a degree in the U.S. by assisting with English language proficiency and other pre-requisites. UHDS has administered the program since fall 2010.

Oregon State’s Homestay Program is partially modeled after homestay programs in the United Kingdom but with an added emphasis on education and cultural exchange — not just an alternate way to provide room and board, said Jacqueline Chambers, who was hired as the full-time coordinator for the program in September 2011. Past part-time homestay coordinators included Katie Scott and Brian Stroup.

“It’s a ‘one-of-a-kind’ program in the U.S.,” Chambers said. And, the program is in-demand with a 23-person waiting list of students hoping to be placed with a host family in the fall of 2011.

“A lot of students will choose homestay to work on their English and learn cultural skills,” Chambers said. Having the support of a family network helps too: “For a lot of these students, it’s their first time away from home.”

Host families range from retirees to college students and needn’t live near campus, just close to transit options or be willing to drive their student to the university area for classes.

Host families provide a private bedroom and study space for students, and one meal a day (usually dinner). Hosts are reimbursed $20 a night to offset expenses.

Interested in being a host to an international student? See the Homestay Program website for more information or call 541-737-8754.


Every family is different: Another couple, Ted and Vickie Fullmer, seated, host up to six students at a time in their home. This year, many of their students hailed from East Asian countries. “Our family is always changing,” Vickie said. (Contributed photo)


By Nancy Raskauskas, UHDS online marketing specialist