By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – WSU Tri-Cities is looking for community members who would like to connect with international students and provide them with opportunities to experience local cultural traditions and customs.

Correspondingly, hosts will get to learn about the students’ culture and customs.

Through the Cultural Learning Partners Program, participants would be paired with an international student and would agree to communicate and meet with that student four to five times per semester. The partnered individuals would choose the types of activities that they would like to do with one another, such as meeting for coffee or tea, visiting local parks, sharing a meal, celebrating holidays and birthdays, attending local community events and more.


“The goal of these activities is to build relationships while learning about each others’ unique cultures,” said Erika Kraus, WSU Tri-Cities international student coordinator. “Both sides have the opportunity to share about their own culture. Through communication and spending time together, participants build meaningful relationships and cross-cultural competencies while living here in the Tri-Cities.”

Interested individuals can start the application process by contacting Erika Kraus, WSU Tri-Cities’ international student coordinator, 509-372-7444, The process entails a detailed application designed to match individuals based on interests, hobbies and preferences; an in-person meeting with Kraus; and a background check.

Participants would:

  • Attend a kick-off event in the fall.
  • Check-in occasionally with Kraus.
  • Receive a newsletter about updates to the program.
  • Provide feedback about the program.

“I’ve seen so many international students feel isolated at American universities, but if they get connected to the local community, they are more likely to become involved on campus, make friends and build their support and social networks,” Kraus said.

“And for the local partnering individual, these international students can share their stories, experiences and knowledge with them right here at home,” she said. “As a university and a community, it deepens our understanding of and connection to the world, it’s people, its beauty and its problems that need solving.”

For more information, visit