"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."
- Hebrews 13:2
In partnership with student organizations on campus, IFI volunteers show hospitality to strangers by providing new students with Airport Pickup and Temporary Housing (APTH).
Many internationals who have grown spiritually were greeted at the airport and welcomed into a home when they first arrived in Columbus.
By God's grace, your participation and support of airport pickup and temporary housing has helped IFI meet the growing demand of new students the last few years. Many of these students attend other IFI student activities, trips, and events, including our Friday night Bible discussions. Airport pickup and temporary housing provide students an invaluable introduction to our ministry.
Thank you for welcoming and loving international students with us!
Learn More about Airport Pickup and Temporary Housing
Airport pickup provides a vital first point of contact with students. Often, students who were first greeted by IFI volunteers will later participate in other IFI activities. The sooner an international student comes into contact with an IFI volunteer, the better, since internationals are usually most open to new friends and new experiences during their first year in the U.S.
Volunteers host these new students in their homes for up to four (4) days while students finalize their arrangements for permanent housing. We ask that hosts provide
- A quiet place for guests to sleep
- Breakfast and dinner
- Means to get to and from campus each day.
Although there are opportunities throughout the year, volunteers are most needed during July and August. The peak time of arrival is the last week of July through the second week of August. Usually IFI is able to let you know about an opportunity for pickup and/or hosting within 1-2 weeks of the student’s arrival, although we occasionally have “last-minute” arrivals.
- How much luggage will this student have?
Typically, students are coming for 9 months or more, so plan on 3 bags as a minimum.
- What if I miss the student? Or what if he is so delayed that I can’t stay to pick them up?
Both you and the student will be given directions as to where to look for each other. If you have waited and have exhausted all these possibilities, call our emergency number (given on the instruction sheet) and report that you cannot find the student. If the student contacts you and says he will be greatly delayed and you can’t stay, again, call our emergency number. We will make other arrangements for the student.
- How long will this student stay?
On our website, we offer no more than 4 days. If you find that the student needs a little extra time, you can say agree to continue to host, or you can call our office. We will then make other housing arrangements for this student. You are NEVER obligated to keep a student longer than 4 days, but we do ask that you accept a student with the understanding that he or she may stay all 4 days.
- What meals am I responsible for?
Breakfast is expected (unless the student just wants to get to campus). Lunches are not expected (unless you want to pack one for the student). Dinners are negotiable. If you cannot make dinner, you may feel free to let the student cook cook their own, eat with them at a restaurant, or offer pick them up from campus after dinner.
- Do I need to drive the student to and from campus every day?
The first day, absolutely yes. On other days, you can explain the bus route and procedures to the student and have them use COTA. Please do so only if you are on a bus line with a SHORT ride to campus (30 min or less). Internationals use buses more than we do, but they are not used to the long waits for buses, so it is always friendlier to drive them if you can.
- What if I go to work early or come home late?
Students should be able to adjust with your schedule. We suggest that you could drop the student off at a relatively quiet, public place to study until classes start. The main library at OSU opens at 7:45 a.m., and is often open until midnight.
- I am uncomfortable having guests of the opposite gender in my home when my spouse is not there.
Notify our Volunteer Coordinator of your concern and we will do our best to match you with students accordingly. However, please note that students will likely be in class all day, and rarely will be at your home during the day.
- If the student has never been in an American home, will it be awkward?
It doesn’t need to be awkward. We do send ALL new students an email, “Tips for Staying in an American Home”, in which we make suggestions to give them some idea of what to expect. We encourage them to ask questions if they are unsure of anything, and we encourage you to ask them if they have ever been in an American home. If not, you might want to show them how things work (ex. the shower). Plan on having fun as you introduce them to American culture!
- Does the student need a private bathroom?
Most students are used to sharing bathrooms, and will probably defer to your use of it. If you need to have it free at a certain time, just tell them.
- Is it my responsibility to find permanent housing for this student?
No. The student should have received information on finding housing from the Office of International Education. We also have housing information for the student in the packet you will receive. You are always welcome to help out a student in this process if you wish, but it is not required.
- My friend offered to take a student for 4 days, and they ended up staying 2 weeks.
Please let us know if a student is overstaying their welcome, pushing you to do something you are uncomfortable with, or making unexpected requests. We are here to help our volunteers, as well as the students.
- I don’t have a spare bedroom, but the student could share my son’s bedroom or sleep on a couch. Would this work?
We would prefer not to do this unless absolutely necessary. Students will be anxious when they arrive, and often need privacy just to sort out their feelings.
- My student wanted to call home as soon as they got here. I didn’t want to pay for the long distance, but I didn’t know how to handle it.
You do not have to pay for overseas phone calls. Offer to take the student to a mini-market or a gas station to purchase a phone card and cover their own phone calls.
Airport and Transportation Issues
- Airport Pickup Procedure (PDF)
- OSU Campus Map / Campus Construction Map
- Columbus Airport Flight Times
- Printable Welcome Sign (Google Doc)
- Greyhound/Bus Station Pickup
- Temp Housing Procedure (PDF)
- Long-Term Housing
- Students Who Overstay
- CARE for Your Student
- Interacting with Your Student
- Sample House Rules During the Stay
- New and Used Furniture Sources (PDF)
- Mattress for Your Student
- Empty Apartment Shopping List (PDF)
- Personal Care Gift Bag
- Bible Studies for Your Student
- Office of International Affairs (OIA)
- Upcoming IFI Activities
- Ethnic Grocery Stores (PDF)
- Google Translate
Sign up below & print a Student Activities Flyer to share with your new friend!
Join our Airport/Temporary Housing Volunteer List