More than 20 families in Iowa and Wisconsin take advantage of a real win-win situation at Divine Word College as members of the Friends Across Nations (FAN) Club—and there’s room for more.
Since 1996, the FAN Club has connected our international students with local families, creating a mutually beneficial cultural exchange and enlightening educational experience. For the students—many of whom are in this country and far away from home for up to seven years—the program helps them ease their homesickness, learn about American culture and practice their English speaking skills. For the families, it’s a chance to learn about other cultures while providing a sense of home for young men and women who will likely go on to touch the lives of needy people around the world.
Nan Peck is the college counselor at DWC and helps coordinate the program. She and her husband Randy have been FAN Club “parents” for many years.
“We’ve learned a lot about different cultures, their philosophies, their thoughts, their customs,” she said. “And, you know we are so used to the freedoms we have in this country. A lot of our students come from countries that don’t have those kinds of freedoms. You learn to appreciate what we have here.”
The program is not demanding. As far as get-togethers off campus, doing something twice a semester works well into busy students schedules that include exams, papers, and presentations as well as religious formation responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the college organizes three events during the course of the year specifically for the FAN Club. There’s a summer picnic at DWC after students return from summer vacation, a bowling outing in November and then a Family Fun Night at the college shortly after classes start in January. Special events such as Mission Sunday and the Lunar New Year celebration also offer times for FAN Club families to meet.
Currently, there are 22 families—several of whom have been with the program since it began 17 years ago—who are welcoming 46 DWC students into their lives. There is also a waiting list of students who are hoping for families, and that list will get longer in the new semester.
If you or someone you know would be interested in taking part in this enriching and gratifying personal experience, contact Donna Puccio at (563) 876-3057 x244, or call the switchboard at (563) 876-3353. Donna can also be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. She can answer your questions and send detailed information so that you can decide if this win-win situation is a good fit for you and your family.
Come join the Club!