Community Connections

The Office for International Students and Scholars offers three Community Connections programs that match full-time Washington University in St. Louis international students who are interested in experiencing St. Louis life off campus with members of the St. Louis community who are interested in helping international students engage with life in St. Louis. All programs are free of charge.


By participating in the programs, students can learn about St. Louis and U.S. cultures, practice conversational English with supportive conversation partners, and hear St. Louisans’ perspectives on topics of interest. Volunteers can pursue their interests in other cultures, hear first-hand accounts of life in an international student’s home country, and rediscover St. Louis through the eyes of an international student. Together, students and volunteers can develop connections that transcend borders. Matches between participants and volunteers run for one year unless otherwise indicated.


Speak English With Us

Speak English With Us (SEWU) pairs a community volunteer with an international student for casual conversation one hour each week. Conversations may take place on campus, at a coffee shop, or any other location the volunteer and student choose. These conversations provide an exceptional opportunity for students to practice English in an informal setting that complements classroom English instruction that they have experienced or can experience elsewhere.

The Host Family Program

The Host Family Program matches an international student with a local individual or family for monthly get-togethers to enjoy St. Louis events and attractions. The program is a cultural exchange; volunteers do not provide living accommodations. The student and volunteer(s) get together on a monthly basis for dinners, movies, sightseeing, sporting events, museum visits, or any other local activity of their choice.

Be Our Guest Program

The members of the Women’s Society of Washington University (WSWU) initiated this program to provide a casual introduction to family life in St. Louis. Volunteers are paired with two international students to partake in a family meal or local event.

Members of the WSWU and anyone affiliated with WashU is welcome to volunteer for this program. We ask that volunteers provide transportation for students if needed.


Interested Students

Students may choose only one of the three programs so that we may accommodate as many requests for volunteers as possible. One-semester exchange students are encouraged to select the “Be Our Guest” option since we match other program participants for a full year. Please complete the student application to sign up.


Volunteers are welcome to sign up for more than one program, and may be single individuals, single parents, or couples with or without children. Please complete the volunteer application to get started.

Contact Information

For more information about any of the programs, or to update your information, contact the OISS at or (314) 935-5910.