Chance meeting over dinner – volunteering with international visitors

As we get into the season of Thanksgiving, I begin to think about what I am grateful for in this region and in the work that I do with international visitors and students through the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council. It is truly lucky to have such unique restaurants that are local – Skyline, LaRosa’s, and Montgomery Inn – to share with international visitors that come here to the region. Those look on the visitors’ faces of curiosity and a little hesitation after smelling the chili that is in front of them is one of the best moments of sharing our culture.

I am thankful that our students are learning about the world through first hand experiences with visitors and local college students who share with them their native countries in the classroom. To see the kids’ eyes light up, for instance, as a visitor shares their national anthem and an accompanied dance is one of the best ways to get to know one another and connect.

One of the best opportunities offered through the council year round is the chance to bring international visitors/emerging leaders into your home for dinner. This is usually the first time the visitors have been in an American home and had a home-cooked meal while being in the United States. It gives the visitors a true sense of what being an American means to you and your family. Sharing a meal and great conversation in your home can be one of the most wonderful experiences, but don’t let me just tell you.

Let’s hear from a first time volunteer about his/his family’s experience when inviting visitors from Gabon and Niger into his home:


I wanted to take a minute to tell you how fortunate I/my family feels for having the opportunity to host dinner this past Tuesday for Ibrahim, Dieudonne and Sim. We had a wonderful visit and feel so lucky to have had this chance to meet and interact with our new friends.

Please keep me in my mind if opportunities like this should come about in the future. I/my family would be more than open to hosting/assisting the needs of international visitors.

Thank you again for allowing us this chance.

Aaron Marshall, High School Principal at Wyoming City Schools”

We are looking for volunteers to host visitors when they are in the region. If this sounds interesting to you, please sign up for more information here:

By Michelle Harpenau
Michelle Harpenau is the Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council.

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