The Divine Word College F.A.N. Club is an acronym for "Friends Across Nations." The organization matches students with area families as a means of establishing off-campus social connections. Some on-campus events are scheduled, but most activities are left to the desires and interests of the individual student and host family.
Our students and our families say that the F.A.N. Club is a very positive experience. Often, the relationships begun in the F.A.N. Club last long after the student leaves the college to continue his journey in religious life.
Developing English Skills. Nearly all Divine Word College students would benefit from regular opportunities to practice their English skills with native speakers. Individuals and families willing to spend time with our students helping them develop their English skills make an important contribution to their education. Our students’ motivation to succeed is strengthened when they recognize that they are able to apply the lessons of the classroom to real-life situations.
Establishing Personal Relationships. There are many wonderful natural and human resources in the Tri-State area, none more obvious than the friendliness and neighborliness of our people. Since most Divine Word College students are relative newcomers to the United States, and certainly to the Midwest, their education requires greater exposure to the different attitudes and values of American citizens. Sadly, a Divine Word College student could probably complete his whole college education without ever establishing a friendly, personal relationship with the good people of our area. This is unfortunate and prompts us to establish this program.
Sharing Cultural Resources. Divine Word College students bring to our area a wealth of experience from their native countries. Their worldviews, their faith, their values, their ways of celebrating, and frequently their ways of surviving can help the people of the greater Dubuque area gain a broader perspective on their own way of life, its strengths and its deficiencies. Divine Word College students create the possibility of an enriching cross-cultural exchange.
Caring for One Another. Many Divine Word College students are and have been separated from families and loved ones for many years. While most have relatives and friends in the U.S., they could still benefit from a little loving attention, the kind usually found only in the home, during their years here in Iowa, where the winters can be long and harsh. Families will quickly discover that most Divine Word College students are courteous, friendly and caring. They bring joy and good humor to those they meet.
It's easy to get involved!
We are always looking for families. If you would like to join the F.A.N. Club or have questions, contact Donna Puccio, F.A.N. Club Coordinator.
Terry and Paula Friedman have been members of the F.A.N. Club for several years. Here's what they have to say about the experience.
"Through our involvement in the F.A.N. Club, we have met some wonderful students. Initially we thought we would be doing these students a favor by being their 'local' family and providing them with friendship and support.
Without question, our family has received far more by getting to know these marvelous individuals than we ever imagined."
The Friedmans with their
F.A.N. Club student
The Powers Family
Our two FAN Club students, Khanh Ha and Vinh Nguyen are from Vietnam and have been here for about a year now. Both are ESL students at Divine Word College. Sang Cong Tran, a freshman, came with us since we had room in our car for one more passenger. Sang is from Houston, Texas and speaks very fluent English since he was born in the States. It was good for him to be with us, as we sometimes got into a communication jam with the other two boys! They are doing really well with their English, but sometimes we still need them to repeat things for us. I am amazed at how much Khanh and Vinh have improved their English skills over the past year.
We decided to take a drive to look at the beautiful fall leaves. On the way up the Iowa side, we stopped at Guttenberg, and then at Pike's Peak outside of McGregor. There, the guys got to see a wonderful view of the Mississippi River and the surrounding area. We were glad that there was still a lot of fall foliage hanging onto the trees to give our view some pretty colors. We took a bunch of pictures there.
We then headed to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, first crossing one of the bridges over the Mississippi that we had seen from our high point at Pike's Peak. We went to an Irish Pub there for lunch and sat by a fireplace. It was a chilly day and the warmth felt good. The guys had sandwiches and wings. I think they were pretty hungry. Then the guys dropped me off at the Cannery store, where I and a hundred or so other women were shopping for neat little objects to decorate our homes with. Meanwhile, Dennis took the three students to Cabela’s sporting goods store, where they looked at “guy” things and got to see some small and large animals that had been preserved through taxidermy. Later, the guys came back to pick me up and also spent some time roaming around the Cannery. I think it was interesting for them to see what we Americans like to decorate our homes with. Because I purchased some things, I received a free pumpkin. A lady behind me at the checkout counter told me that I could have her pumpkin also. The guys got to go outside and pick out 2 pumpkins from the assortment on the ground near some bundles of cornstalks.
Our next stop was at the Potosi Brewery. Dennis and I had not been there before so this was of interest to us also. We read information on the ground level regarding the Potosi Brewery and other breweries that used to be in the area. Then we went over to their lounge area where we gave the students their first taste of root beer and Wisconsin cheese curds. (Khanh did not want to drink the tall glass of dark root beer because he thought it had alcohol in it). We reassured him that it did not. Outside, there was a small pond fed by water from the steep bluff next to it. We watched the koi fish swimming in the pond for a while.
We drove back to Dubuque on the Wisconsin side. As we got near Illinois, we explained to them that soon they were going to be in another state, which was Illinois. That day, they got to experience three states.....Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
We stopped at the Pumpkin Barn. The guys picked out three little pumpkins that they said they would put in their rooms back at DWC. They might draw or carve small faces on them. Sang wondered if he could make a pumpkin pie out of his tiny pumpkin. It was pretty small and we told him he would need several more to bake that nice pumpkin pie.
Our next stop was at The Asian Market in Dubuque. We thought that the guys might be hungry again and that we could eat at the Asian Gourmet Restaurant next to it. They were not hungry, but they did enjoy talking to the lady who owned the restaurant, Lien Tran. She told us that she has a nephew who is interested in attending DWC.
The last leg of our day trip was back to Divine Word College, where we dropped off Khanh, Vinh, and Sang with their three little pumpkins and two other big ones. It was a really nice day as we got to know the students. We asked Sang if he would like to be part of the FAN Club and he sounded very interested in being part of our family. Again, we really had a great time with our guys.
Dennis and Carol Powers