Texas Tech University

Newly formed cultural exchange group pairs international students with community members

Cultural Exchange Group

Over a hundred international students found new families, so to speak, when a Lubbock community organization created a cultural friendship program that couples local families with international students. The goal of this program is twofold: for international students and U.S. families to share their unique cultures with one another and for Lubbock families to help provide a support network for international students whose primary support networks are oceans away.

Spencer Stringer, who recently moved back to Lubbock after living in China for ten-plus years, approached staff within the Office of International Affairs to ask about the possibility of starting a hospitality organization for international students. When he learned that there was a need for an organization that could facilitate cultural exchanges and friendships, Mr. Stringer went to work creating guidelines and making plans to match twenty international students with twenty families from his community. Once the Office of International Affairs informed Tech international students about a community program that paired them with American families--The Cultural Exchange at Redeemer--over a hundred students contacted Mr. Stringer to sign up.

Mr. Stringer then called on all he knew in the Lubbock community to sign up as hosts for all the international students hungry for this program. The Lubbock community responded: over a hundred families from Mr. Stringer's church and from the TTU community signed up. It is clear that international students want to engage the Lubbock community and Lubbock families want to welcome and support international students with their friendship.

Members of the Cultural Exchange at Redeemer and Spencer Stringer want to see this program expand over time to include more students and more organizations from the Lubbock community. The Cultural Exchange is a model that embraces the old West Texas principles of hospitality and friendship--principles that are embraced by our international community as well. For more information regarding this program, Spencer Stringer can be contacted by email: spencer@redeemerlubbock.org.