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2007 UCSD Award

“Organization of the Year”
University of California
San Diego Chancellor’s
International Center
Volunteer Award
presented by the
UCSD International Center.  

Here are testimonials from two undergraduate students, a graduate student, and two visiting scholars who have participated in the Solana Beach Host Family Program.

Dominik Walter, Undergraduate Student, Germany

"My name is Dominik Walter and I was a German exchange student at UCSD. And I participated in the Solana Beach host family program. Knowing that I would be picked up from the airport by my host family and then be able to stay with them during my first few days in California helped me to feel more secure before I even left Germany.

The prospect of spending a year in a foreign country made me somewhat nervous in the beginning, but with the help of my host family I quickly adjusted to my new living circumstances. Also my parents were glad to know that there was someone who would look after me and who they could call in an emergency while I was abroad. With the assistance of my host family I was able to open a bank account, get a cell phone and buy all the things I needed for my new apartment. Furthermore, this assistance was not limited to the first three days. Even throughout the year  I could always go to them and ask for whatever I needed. They also invited me to several occasions like family dinners or church events, which gave me an authentic insight into the American way of life.

I always enjoyed spending time with my host family and was sad when I had to leave California. Even now, after many years, I am still in touch with them and am looking forward to meeting them again when I’ll go back to San Diego.  Without the experience of being part of the host family program, I would have missed out on one of the most valuable experiences I had while being abroad. I would recommend the program to every foreign student who plans to study at UCSD.”

Olivia Rivorie, Undergraduate Student, France

The host family program to me…

I said many times to my wonderful host family that I would never have enough words to express my gratitude for all the love and aid they gave me during this year. Thanks to the Solana Beach program, I met my hosts and their extended family. They played a significant role in making my journey in San Diego one of the best years of my life. For that, they tremendously helped me to find my way in San Diego at the right beginning of the experience, which is the critical moment, and they led me into building a new life on the other part of the world. They did not hesitate to give: their help when needed, giving me a ride at almost one in the morning when I was in trouble, their advice, on the housing accommodation, the way I should live the experience, their assistance, to buy all the things I needed for my apartment, their affection from the beginning to the end. I also found in this program the family spirit, a house and people with whom I could celebrate events like my birthday or the typical American Thanksgiving. They brought me into the American society and made me feel at home abroad. The hardest time of my journey? It was to leave people I grew to love…

Sara Zare, Graduate Student, Iran

“No doubt I could have survived in the USA without the host family program. However, with getting to know Americans through this program and spending time at American homes, experiencing Thanksgiving, Christmas, the 4th of July and other important American cultural milestones within them, I had an extraordinary experience in this country.

Not only did I learn a lot about America in particular, there was another part to my personal experience with these wonderful people. I always had a huge amount of interest in learning about religions  other than Islam, which I have grown up with. My host family was very welcoming in letting me join their Sunday and small group worships. In addition to that, I have had chances to exchange ideas with some other international students with different beliefs, such as Christian, Buddhist or even atheist friends of mine.

This all together was a priceless experience for me. I can never put enough emphasis on how wonderful this experience was for me. I can encourage every single international student to enjoy the benefits of this program. 
I feel as if I have my second family here. I was part of their happiest moments, and they always had an ear to listen to and a hand to help me while I was dealing with different stages of the cultural shock or if there was any hardship in my life.”

Qingyun Yang and Yoyao Guo, Visiting Scholars, China

"A million thanks to The Solana Beach Host Family Program!

My name is Qingyun and my colleague is Yiyao. We were visiting scholars at UCSD in the fall of 2010. We two come from Beijing Normal University (BNU), China. This is the first time for us to visit America so we had lots of worries about the first hectic week before we land in the strange country. However, when we two are picked up by our host family at the airport, get together with all the family members, we two are relieved and feel so lucky to know our hosts. They are so kind and helpful to us. They have kindly invited us to spend the American festivals like Thanksgiving and Christmas and the church concert with their whole family and their friends. It is a precious chance for us to get insights of real American life, American culture.

Right now, we often share our experiences with our students. We now still keep in touch with each other and our hosts plan to come to China in two or three years. We are looking forward to seeing each other next time. Thanks again for the Solana Beach Program, our first week is not as hectic and difficult as we have expected. Thanks for the Solana Beach Program. We and our host family have such a good friendship!"