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Program seeks friends for foreign students

The MIT Hosts to International Students Program (HISP) welcomes faculty and staff members from campus as well as Lincoln and Draper Laboratories to be a friend and mentor to an incoming international graduate or undergraduate student who is new to the United States and MIT.

HISP, established in 1961, helps new internationals make the transition to MIT and greater Boston and provides ongoing friendship throughout the student's stay at MIT.

HISP matches these students with American "hosts" who stay in touch with the student by phone or in person, perhaps offering a home-cooked meal or an off-campus outing. This volunteer program is purely social; the International Students Office and other support services handle problems relating to visas, academics and other issues.

All foreign students accepted at MIT are invited to participate in the program, and up to 150 apply for a host each year. Thus, HISP constantly needs additional volunteers, said coordinator Kate Baty, who added that some requests go unfilled because of the shortage of hosts.

Some hosts are former Peace Corps volunteers who want to maintain connections to the countries in which they worked. It's also a good way for recent retirees to keep up their links to the Institute, Ms. Baty noted.

HISP will hold a pair of two-hour evening orientation sessions for prospective hosts today at 5:30pm or Thursday, September 3 at 6pm inRm 5-106. Additional times can be scheduled. Contact Ms. Baty at x3-4862 or for more information.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 26, 1998.

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