The friendship family program connects Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) students with a local family in order to introduce students to a wide range of American traditions and activities throughout their ten month program. Connecting with American families is an essential part of experiencing American customs and is one of the best ways we have for creating opportunities for students and community members to engage in long-term, relationship based culture sharing.
In this blog post, Rara and Fahmeeda’s friendship family, Elizabeth Sierra-Arruffatt, writes about some of her favorite things to do with the NWCCI students. Check back later to read Fahmeeda’s reflections about her friendship family and what she’s learned from their interactions.
I have enjoyed being a friendship family because I have had the privilege of getting to know not just one, but many of the NWCCI students over the last 7 months. I was given the opportunity to host 2 students, Fahmeeda and Rara. Picking them up at the airport began a journey of knowing three special, brave, and courageous young ladies. We began our relationship getting their feet planted in Lakewood; showing them where the college was, the bank, getting their phones, taking them to school every morning, and cooking for them.
My friend Steve and I gave a cooking lesson for all of the NWCCI students where we helped them learn the measurements here in the USA, such as the cup,1/2 ,1/4, 3/4, tablespoons, teaspoon, gallon and quart measurements. The NWCCI students cooked the whole meal (hamburgers, grilled vegetables from the garden, grilled corn on the cob, scones and homemade ice cream) with help from Steve and I, and had great time . While dinner was being cooked, baked and grilled, students took a break in the backyard to play volleyball.
After a few short weeks, the students moved into their own apartments here in Lakewood. When I was asked to be a Friendship Family to Rara and Fahmeeda I was so happy that I was still able to be in their lives for the next 10 months. We get together most Wednesday nights for dinner with other students I host and their friends. I call it “Wednesday Birthday Night.” A home cooked meal will always bring people together no matter where you are from, and it’s always fun to have birthday cake at the dinner to celebrate one student that week. Each student may have a “birthday” several times through the year.
I have a deep passion for photography and have found that three of the NWCCI students love photography as much as I do. We have gone out in search of the perfect picture on a foggy morning, around the lake behind Pierce College, to a grave yard, to water falls in Olympia, and on a clear, snowy morning with fresh snow and sunshine on everything.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.