Oxford Host Families and Friends

Information and Updates for Sept-Oct 2016

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Thank you very much for opening your homes and hearts to our international students! Your hospitality and generosity go a long way in helping our students feel welcomed and at home. From the ISP office and Oxford College, THANK YOU!!

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

Lanterns were lit and traditional pastries exchanged for the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, a harvest celebration that falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

The festival, which this year fell on 15 September, is celebrated in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan and neighboring countries. It is the second most important festival after the Spring Festival and honors the full moon as a symbol of peace, prosperity and family reunion.

The celebration dates back more than 3,000 years to the Shang Dynasty (1600 to 1046 BC), when emperors worshipped the moon in the autumn because they thought it would lead to a bountiful harvest.


One of the key elements of the festival is the exchange of Chinese pastries called mooncakes. Their round shape symbolizes completeness and sharing the moon cakes signifies the unity of families.

A rich thick filling is usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste, but they can also contain fruit, chocolate or savoury foods. The Cantonese mooncake may contain a salted duck egg yolk (or two) and be covered with a pastry crust often baked with lard.

From the International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/mid-autumn-festival-2016-what-chinas-moon-cake-holiday-all-about-1581464

Tips for Hosting and International Student

The NAFSA: Association of International Educators brochure, Friendship with a Foreign Student: A Guide for Host Families and Friends of Foreign Students, highlights aspects of culture that host and students should be aware of as they develop their relationships.

These include:

Social Relationships – Americans tend to be quite friendly and open, and we have several circles or tiers of friendships. Our deeper, lasting friendships develop over a long period of time. People from other cultures may misinterpret American friendliness for friendship and may be disappointed when a more meaningful friendship has not developed. Friendship and social interaction in the U.S. could be both an interesting and helpful topic to discuss with your student.

Informality – We are much more informal in the U.S. than in many other countries. Still the degree of formality varies depending on context. Discussing these nuances would be helpful for your student. You may also want to invite your student to call you by the name or title you prefer.

Privacy – We Americans may be friendly, but we value our privacy. Help your student gain a sense of what Americans consider to be personal or private topics, and don’t feel obliged to answer any questions your student may have that you feel are too personal to discuss.

Time –Isn’t it amazing how many different interpretations there are of being on time? Help your student understand that punctuality is a value in the U.S. and a show of respect to hosts and professors alike.

Idioms and Expressions – Your student’s proficiency with American idioms and phrases may or may not be very robust. Be aware of the quirky turns of phrases you may use in your everyday speech and look for opportunities to share and explain them to your student. Doing so will help your student gain a nuanced understanding of American English.

Culture Shock – Be aware that your student may experience symptoms of culture shock especially if this is his or her first significant stay away from home. There are several phases of culture shock, and the experience of adjusting to a new culture can be cyclical, meaning phases may be repeated several times over the course of a student’s entire sojourn. It may be helpful to familiarize your family with the phases of culture shock and typical symptoms associated with adjusting to a new culture.

Take it slow. – Meeting (more) new people, conversing in a foreign language, and trying to understand new cultural norms is both frustrating and mentally exhausting. Show your student support and empathy as she or he learns to cope with these challenges.

We hope you have a wonderful experience with your student. If you and your family have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please do contact us at the International Student Programs office at OxISP@emory.edu.

Upcoming Events and Reminders:

  • 9/21--Oxford Women's soccer vs. Polk State and 4th Annual Center for Healthful Living Chili Cook Off! 6:45 pm at the Bivings soccer field
  • 10/11-10/12--Oxford College Fall Break--no classes, but campus remains open
  • 10/21-10/23--Oxford College Family Weekend. Events include a 5k run for all and picnic

And much, much more!