Welcome to the Leaders in International Friendship Exchange (LIFE) program! LIFE matches JMU international students with local community volunteers who are interested in connecting with international students. The purpose of this program is to facilitate friendship and cultural exchange.
LIFE is a completely volunteer program that is open to JMU international students and scholars and to members of the Harrisonburg area community. International students choose to participate in LIFE in order to learn more about American culture and customs through interaction with an American family, improve conversational English skills, and to develop friendships with individuals in the local community. There about 500 international students at JMU representing a diverse range of cultures and interests.
Community volunteers participate in the program in order to learn about a new culture, provide a comfortable environment to students far away from home, and promote a sense of global understanding one relationship at a time. Community volunteers represent a diverse cross section of the Harrisonburg area community and can choose to host more than one student at a time.
Both international students and community volunteers go through an application process that is designed to match up participants based on similar preferences and interests. All community volunteers must pass a criminal background check before participating in the program. All new participants go to an orientation program at the beginning of the semester to prepare them for interacting with someone from a different culture. Occasionally, the international student and community volunteer may not be compatible. In these situations they may discuss a change with Hunter Swanson, the LIFE coordinator.
There are three start dates for the LIFE program and one end date for the LIFE program.