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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

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

Being a friend, becoming a proud LGBT ally  October 20th, 2011

I was sitting in the Pride Center today, thinking about my first personal experience with LGBT* identities. I was in high school and one of my close friends came out to me as gay. He said I was the second or third person he opened up to about his sexuality. I realized that his coming out to me showed a great deal about his trust in me as a friend and a person. I didn’t know the term for it then, but this was my first experience of discovering what it means to be an ally.

Before this experience, I had never (knowingly) been around anyone from the LGBT community. I was raised in a very sheltered setting, not very aware of personal differences. I remained extremely naïve as a child, even as late as high school. I don’t remember knowing about people being gay or that they were around me. I just thought “people were people.” I was raised in a heavily Protestant family. I was taught that being gay was a choice and that it was bad. I learned that, according to the Bible, God didn’t agree with people who are attracted to the same sex. Realizing that one of my close friends is gay helped me make some personal decisions of what is true for me.

Surprisingly enough, my relationship with my friend was not at all negatively affected by his coming out. In fact, I think our friendship actually became stronger. I knew he trusted me and I was able to support him in his coming out to others when he was ready. I still saw him as the same person, because he is the same; the difference is that I now know him more completely. The fact that he is gay doesn’t change his personality or the friendship we have between us. Unlike some TV shows, I was not, all of a sudden, worried that he was attracted to me just because he is gay. He helped me understand that, for him, it wasn’t a choice. His sexuality was something he had been struggling to understand and share for quite a while. I am glad he chose to confide in me and include me in his coming out process. I am also glad his courage sparked courage in me to learn how I can be a better ally to him and others in the LGBT community.

Since I have been at OSU, I have found that going to the Pride Center events have helped me explore my own thoughts regarding sexuality and the LGBT community. I would like to consider myself a proud ally, and I encourage caring curiosity with regard to what it means to be an ally. I encourage you to check out the Pride Center soon. The Rainbow Continuum student group is another great avenue to learn more. I especially encourage you to check out their fall and spring drag shows, which are quite fun! In fact, their next drag show is at 8 p.m. Oct. 28, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

Thank you for reading,

Nick Taylor, Community Relations Facilitator

*(lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender)