Most people who haven't sponsored before don't really know what participating in this program entails. The biggest misconception that comes from the name of the program, is that you will have to provide the officer with a place to live, or some type of large monetary commitment. This is not the case!
The International Student Management Office deals with the nitty-gritty of securing housing for the officers, and all of the officers receive a per diem payment from our office or their own Governments. They do not need housing, and they don't need money!
What they do need, however, is your time, your guidance, and your friendship.
A sponsor serves as a logistical guide for an international officer who may be in the U.S. for the first time, and sometimes brings their spouse and their children. The officers frequently land in the U.S. on a Saturday and are in class at NDU on Monday. The officers and their families can get very overwhelmed. It's important for our Sponsors to understand that the first month of Sponsorship is when the officer will need the most logistical support, and should be sure to be readily available. Some examples of logistical help include:
- Advising the officer and family regarding safety, American customs and traditions to include tipping/showing gratitude and use of American slang, idioms, and figures of speech
- Advising the officer on transition items upon their arrival. Although ISMO will provide assistance in most transition items such as banking, schools, housing, and medical, the sponsor may assist in follow up.
- Providing ideas or advice about major purchases, travel, entertainment, and places of interest.
- Helping the officer and family with local shopping options close to their housing and throughout the Washington metropolitan area.
Though logistical support will continue to be necessary throughout the year, as time goes on your role will shift from logistical assistance to cultural guide. One of the real benefits of the Community Sponsorship Program is to show the officer the American way of life through participating in home and community activities together. Some of these activities that have been joined by both IFs and Sponsors include:
- Extending invitations into American homes for traditional American holidays such as Thanksgiving
- Attending local sporting or cultural events that may be unfamiliar to the If and family
- Dining at an ethnic restaurant to experience the officers cuisine, so the cultural exchange goes both ways
Throughout the year of Sponsorship, your role will be more of the cultural guide than logistical support. We ask that all of our Sponsors take their role as a fireside diplomat seriously. For more information about being a Sponsor you can explore the promotional materials on the right side of the page.