What is a Community Friend, and what do they do?
The Community Friends component of the Asia University America Program (AUAP) started in March 1989. It is intended to give the AUAP students the opportunity to interact with members of the local community. It is also meant to give community members a better understanding of Japanese culture. To date, over 160 Ellensburg families, couples, and individuals have participated in forming partnerships with nearly 1,600 AUAP students.
Community Friends are families or individuals from the community who volunteer to spend time with one or two AUAP students for four months. Community Friends are matched with the AUAP students based on common interests and usually get together about twice a month for a few hours. Students do not stay overnight. AUAP students want to learn about American Culture and enjoy participating in everyday activities. There is no need to plan special activities to entertain them - just include them in the things you or your family do such as cooking dinner, playing games, bicycling, hiking, watching videos and just talking.
The AUAP student also look forward to sharing Japanese culture with their Community Friends, and hopefully time spent together will be a rewarding cultural exchange.
Community Friends will be invited to participate in several AUAP sponsored activities. There will be a reception with ice cream sundaes when Community Friends are first introduced to their students and several celebrations such as Coming of Age during winter quarter and Japan Night during spring quarter. There will also be a Farewell Picnic in July.
Take a look at what past Community friends have done!
What is the time commitment?
Community Friends are asked to commit to four months of interaction. The students spend five months at CWU but are not matched with their Community Friends until after the first month. The fall/winter group arrives in September and will interact with Community Friends from October - February. Community Friends get together with their students about twice per month. Families may opt to volunteer in one or both groups per year.
Who can be a Community Friend?
Anyone can! If you live in the local community and are interested in learning about Japanese culture or want to share your culture with someone else, you can be a Community Friend.
Although many students are interested in families with children, many other students prefer single adults and couples without children.
Will I be able to communicate the AUAP students?
All of the students have studied English for several years in high school and the university. Some students may lack confidence to use their spoken English at first, but all students are able and willing to carry on basic conversations.
How do I become a Community Friend?
If you have questions, or would like to become involved, please call the AUAP Student Services Coordinator, Nicki Kukar, at 963-1374 or e-mail at Werdinm@cwu.edu. You can also fill out an application on-line!
We are always happy to answer any questions about AUAP or the Community Friends Program.