Dear AMIS Friends,
This is an unprecedented time for all of us and especially for international students.
During this uncertain time, we feel that AMIS’s mission to promote cultural understanding through friendship and hospitality with international students is as important as ever. Though we are finding new “virtual” ways to reach out in friendship, the principles of caring for our international friends among us remains unchanged.
AMIS international students have been impacted by their colleges/universities moving to online instruction. While most American students have returned home, emptying the campuses, many international students have been unable to return home and stayed. Some, who were planning to be here for a semester had their programs cut short and have returned home.
When students were asked to vacate on-campus housing, some international students requested to stay, now living in almost empty dorms. Many international students stayed because they feared that if they left the US, they would not be able to return.
While “social-distancing” and sheltering in place is difficult for many of us, for international students far from home, it can exacerbate loneliness and feelings of isolation. We’ve heard from some students who find it difficult to be by themselves all the time, others who are afraid, and some who are struggling with food insecurity. Keeping a positive outlook may be a challenge for some as well.
During this time, AMIS has reached out to the international students we’ve gotten to know and many of you have reached out to your Amigo friends. Susan and I have called, emailed, or texted them to see how they are faring and some of them have reached out to us.
Thank you to those of you who have remained connected with your international student Amigo friend(s). Your support means a lot to them during this time.
One of our Amigo volunteers is sending puzzles or activities to students who request them.
Another of our Amigo volunteers, Emily Spears, offers the following suggestions for connecting to your international student friends while “social distancing”:
Have a Zoom or Facetime brunch/lunch/dinner with your Amigo friend.
Schedule a walk together in your own neighborhoods while talking on the phone.
Netflix share a screen movie watching: https://www.netflixparty.com/
Nintendo Switch/other relevant gaming devices simultaneous/group play with your Amigo
Online games with Amigo friends: https://parade.com/1012420/nicolepajer/best-online-games/
Take a virtual tour/field trip together: http://howtohomeschoolforfree.com/huge-list-of-virtual-field-trips/
Exchange snail mail, maybe with something interesting in it (photograph, origami, poem/quote)
Teach the other how to make a favorite dish over Zoom (or try to make a dish together)
Do an at home “paint and sip” (or art project) over Zoom, both trying to paint the same masterpiece or something else (or, for hilarious results, portraits of each other)
Watch a classic sports game together over Zoom (tons of them are currently free in most sports or have always been available on YouTube)
We’ve hosted 2 virtual “AMIS Talks” through Zoom video conferencing and caught up with some AMIS international students that way. During these video chats, we shared highlights and lowlights, and exchanged ideas for living in isolation. We will plan to hold these virtual “AMIS talks” weekly during the COVID-19 orders to shelter in place.
Though we are staying home and working remotely to fight the spread of corona virus, we are trying to stay connected and support our international students during this difficult time for everyone. We hope and pray that you are safe and healthy during this time.
Thank you for being a part of AMIS and joining us in our unchanging mission of friendship and hospitality with international students.
Wishing you peace and health,
Rev. Irene Wong Executive Director