Would you like to serve as a citizen diplomat and host foreign leaders visiting your community? The Wright State University Center for International Education's Dayton Council for International Visitors invites you to take part in a unique opportunity to engage with participants in the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the premier government exchange program.
Wright State is the IVLP representative for the greater Dayton area, serving as host to delegations of emerging leaders from around the globe. As such, we arrange comprehensive programming designed around our delegates' professional objectives and incorporate home hospitality to make their experience more personal and memorable. Offering visitors a home-cooked meal and an evening of conversation is an ideal way to showcase Dayton's charm.
When ordinary citizens open their homes to international visitors, they play an essential role in shaping America's foreign relations and promoting diplomacy "one handshake at a time." To learn more about becoming a home hospitality host, please contact Joy Wanderi at the University Center for International Education at (937) 775-5748.
We are currently looking for volunteers to host 2-3 delegates in their homes for dinner on the following dates:
July 7th - This delegation includes English-speaking librarians from around the world
July 21st – French, Arabic, and English-speaking disability advocates from Africa (Interpreters provided)
July 28th – Spanish and English-speaking law enforcement officials from South America, Central America, and the Caribbean (Interpreters provided)
What is dinner hospitality?
By offering dinner hospitality, you agree to pick up your visitor(s) at a prearranged time at a local hotel, drive him/her to your home, serve a meal, converse about mutual interests, and drive the visitor back to the hotel a few hours later.
Who are the visitors?
The visitors are leaders from around the world. Most are invited here by the U.S. government and travel under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of State. Others are sponsored by a variety of public and private organizations.
Should a single person host a visitor(s) alone?
Yes, but inviting other friends or family to share the evening enhances conversation and assures that the guest isn't left alone while you are in the kitchen. Some young singles co-host in their parents' home - a terrific idea!
Home or restaurant?
We strongly encourage hosting the visitor in your home. The visitors eat many restaurant meals during their U.S. trip, but have few opportunities to see how Americans live. If it is necessary to use a club or restaurant, we suggest including a stop at your home for appetizers or dessert.
Formal sit-down with adult guests or informal family with gurgling child in high chair?
Either! Both are legitimate glimpses of American life. We do ask that you let International Center at Wright State or the visitor know which to expect so he/she can be prepared.
Consider confining your animals in another room. Many international people are uneasy about animals in the home, especially around food.
What foods should I serve?
Usually, it is best to serve your favorite American food and observe visitors' dietary constraints, if known. If unknown, it is best to avoid any form of pork because Muslims, Jews, and vegetarians cannot eat it. A good safety measure is to prepare one more vegetable dish than you would normally. Many visitors who do not drink alcohol appreciate fruit juices (rather than pop) as an alternative.
Showing or showing off?
Should we offer a room-by-room tour of our house? Probably, many visitors are interested in seeing the home, but the sensitive host will be matter-of-fact and avoid any sense of superiority.
It's a nice component to add, especially on a weekend when the visitors may have time on their hands. On a dark winter evening it makes little sense.
You're from where?
The International Center has background information on almost every country. Ask for it if you are unfamiliar with the home country of a visitor. Avoid the stereotype of American ignorance about other countries by preparing in advance. Use an atlas or online resources to research as far as your curiosity takes you.
What if my guest's English is not fluent?
The International Center will try to find hosts who speak the visitor's language or will include the interpreter in the invitation. Even if the visitor's English is good, speak slowly, clearly, in normal volume, and avoid slang.
Do we treat international visitors in any special way?
No. Be yourself. Be aware, however, that American informality when carried too far becomes confusing to visitors.
What should we talk about?
Encourage your visitors to talk about themselves, their countries, their families, and their ideas. Explain our customs and our cultural and social values, but remember that we are not a sales agency for the United States. They have much to tell; we have much to learn.
What about controversial topics?
Politics and religion can be interesting to discuss if you maintain a respect for differences. There should be no religious or political proselytizing on either side.
Should we mention previous international visitors?
Avoid talking too much about them or showing gifts you received from them. Your guest will not want to feel that he/she is "one of many," but is "special."
Who brings the evening to a close?
A social evening should not run too late, as the visitors may have early morning appointments or flights. For this reason, visitors are scheduled to be picked up at a particular time.
Two watchwords are Sensitivity and Respect - sensitivity to another person's feelings and respect for differences. Hosting an international visitor is a blind date. Our council knows both of you, but you don't know each other. We hope you will enjoy getting acquainted!