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    Opening a door to the world

    By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

    The flights, trains and buses needed to get to Kingston from the other side of the world may be a stressful ordeal, but the effort is all worthwhile when there’s a warm bed at the end of the trip. That’s why the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) is looking for volunteers from the university community to house international students for the first few days they arrive in the city.

    For one to three days, host houses provide welcoming spaces for international students while they search for a more permanent place to live. Each year, between the fall and winter semesters, about 50 students are in need of accommodation.

    “After their many hours of travel, students can be jet-lagged and exhausted,” says Hanna Stanbury, QUIC’s Promotion and Volunteer Co-ordinator. “Having a volunteer house open to them softens the landing; from there, we at QUIC can help them settle in.”

    Accommodations needn’t be fancy either. “All we ask is that the host houses provide a safe and friendly place. These conditions are temporary, so students are happy to have a pull-out couch if a spare room isn’t available,” she says.

    Prabeen Joshi (Sc’15) came to Queen’s from Nepal in 2010. Arriving a few days before he had access to his apartment, Mr. Joshi was welcomed into the house of some undergraduate students near campus. “This is a great program for anyone who’s an international student. It can be hard to come to a new place and this makes the transition much easier,” he says.

    Now settled, and with a place of his own, he’s been hosting international students in need ever since. “I feel like I’ve been able to pay back what I got,” he says. “It’s been very satisfying to be able to help them settle in — I’ve taken the time to show them around town a little bit too, so they’ve got their bearings.”

    Queen's in the World

    Having hosted people from Holland, Austria, Mexico, China and elsewhere, Mr. Joshi says it’s broadened his network. “Now I know people from half a dozen more countries than I did before. I’ve got friends across the world.”

    Anyone interested in offering a place to stay can find more information at QUIC’s website or contact IHC@queensu.ca.