What is the CASA program?
A majority of the more than 700,000 international students in the United States would never step foot into a U.S. home if it weren't for international friendship programs. UW-Platteville’s CASA program provides the opportunity for local residents to open their own casas y corazones (homes and hearts) to international students coming from over 25 different countries. The CASA program is designed to encourage interaction between UW-Platteville’s international students and the Platteville/tri-state community. We hope that this experience will help students and community members to explore the tri-state area together, learn about each other's culture, and discover a new friend.
Who can participate in the CASA program?
Individual community members, couples, and families within a 25-mile radius of Platteville, Wisconsin, are invited to apply to participate in the CASA program. All international students at UW-Platteville are invited to apply, regardless of student status (freshman, sophomore, exchange, etc.), but priority will be given to new degree-seeking international students.
As a Community Ambassador, whom will I be matched with?
You will be matched with a degree-seeking international student, a semester- or year-long exchange student, or a Master’s student in the Wuhan, China, cohort that comes each spring. Students come from all over the world. The majority are from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, South Korea, Western Europe, and China, with smaller numbers coming from Africa and Latin America. If community members are interested in connecting with a student from a particular region of the world, they should indicate their preference in the “comments” section of the CASA program application, and we will do our best to arrange a match. Use this unique opportunity to get to know someone from a country you would like to learn about!
What will I do with my student?
It is not necessary to create or attend special events with your students; simply include him or her in normal activities that you do anyway, such as cooking dinner, going out for coffee or lunch, or attending a community event. Your student will find excitement in ordinary things like trying U.S. food or experiencing typical “American” activities like fishing or attending a high school baseball game. And while it is not required, the program encourages community members to invite their students to any holiday celebrations as appropriate. These are often an excellent way for our students to learn about U.S. culture. Students and community ambassadors are encouraged to meet approximately once per month to help expose students to various aspects of U.S. culture. Examples of activities that community ambassadors can be found here
How often should students and community ambassadors get together?
When you are first matched with your student or community ambassador, we ask that you meet at least once a month. Life can get busy for both community members and students. Community ambassadors should keep in contact regularly with the students and try to arrange a time to meet that is accommodating to both the community member and the student.
How long do international students stay in Platteville?
The duration of the international student’s stay is based on the wishes of each individual student. Some come for a semester, while others are here for several years.
What is the length of commitment?
The formal match lasts for one academic year, from September to May, unless community members indicate on their application that they would like to host a student from Wuhan, China (spring semester only), or if community members are paired with an exchange student who will only be attending UW-Platteville for the fall or spring semester. We encourage all matches to get together once a month. It is important to the success of this program that there be a commitment on both sides to make time in busy schedules to get together and get to know each other over the course of the year. The greater the commitments, the greater the rewards! You will have the opportunity to renew or stop your participation in the CASA program each year.
How do community ambassadors and students benefit from participating in the CASA program?
Community volunteers in the CASA program agree to support new international students during their transition to campus and to the tri-state area community. In turn, community members can experience different cultures from around the world.
Can community ambassadors host more than one student at a time?
Yes, community ambassadors may host more than one student at a time. In fact, hosting a second student may take pressure off of both the family/individual community member and the students. The international students feel more comfortable and, in some instances, may open up more quickly than if they were paired with a family or community member by themselves. It is also possible that you and 1-2 other households will serve as community ambassadors for a group of 2-3 international students.
What is the relationship between community ambassadors and students in the CASA program like?
The friendships in the program develop based on the individual personalities of the students and community members and the activities you choose to do together. As students and community members get to know one another, the relationship will establish its own direction. It is important to recognize that not all matches in the CASA program end up as best friends; however, it is hoped that both the community members and the students will learn more about themselves and each other’s culture.
When will I meet my student?
One-on-one matches will be made in August of each year. UW-Platteville will host a CASA program orientation session for community ambassadors and a Meet and Greet reception during which community members in the program will meet their students. These orientation sessions take place at the beginning of each fall semester. CASA ambassadors for the Wuhan, China, students in the Master of Science in Education cohort would attend an orientation/meet and greet at the beginning of the spring semester.
What if I am matched with a semester-long exchange student? Is the time length of the commitment still a full academic year?
Yes, if you are matched with a semester-long exchange student in the fall, we will match you with an international student who is admitted another semester-long exchange student in the spring. The International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office will arrange a meet-and-greet for you and your student during the spring semester, but there will not be another CASA program orientation program offered until the next fall.
Is it mandatory for community members who would like to participate in the CASA program for the first time to attend the CASA program orientation?
Yes. Before beginning participation in the CASA program, all new community ambassadors must attend the CASA program orientation at the beginning of the fall semester.
Is it mandatory for past participants who have served as community ambassadors to attend the CASA program orientation each year?
No, it is not mandatory for those who have previously served as a community ambassador in the CASA program to attend the orientation. However, it is recommended. Also, it is important to note that community ambassadors are expected to attend the Meet and Greet reception if they renew their participation in the CASA program and are assigned to a new student, regardless of how many times they have served as a community ambassador.
Are all UW-Platteville international students required to participate in the CASA program?
No, international students need to apply if they would like to participate in the CASA program.
What if I would like to host an international student during the spring semester ONLY?
There is a cohort of Master’s of Science in Education students who come each spring from Wuhan, China. If you are matched with a student from Wuhan, you will be invited to a special training and meet-and-greet reception in late January or early February. If community members wish to be matched with a non-Wuhan exchange student in the CASA program during the spring semester only, they must attend the orientation in the fall before being eligible to be matched with a student. Community members who have gone through the CASA program training in the fall are automatically eligible to be matched with a non-Wuhan student in the spring, even if they did not host a student in the fall.
What if I don’t speak a second language?
Community ambassadors in the CASA program are not required to speak a second language. Part of being an international student is immersing themselves in U.S. culture, and international students must have achieved a specific level of English proficiency prior to being admitted to UW-Platteville. A benefit of participating in the CASA program is that students are able to practice speaking conversational English with their community match.
What happens in case of an emergency with our International Student?
Each student has a health insurance card and coverage—it is mandatory for all international students at UW-Platteville. Feel free to contact the International Student and Scholar Services office (608.342.1852) or Campus Police (608.342.1584) in case of an emergency if you have any questions.
How do I join the CASA program?
If you are interested in becoming a community ambassador in the CASA program, please fill out an application online. For a printable application form, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. All applications are due August 1.
How often do I need to reapply for the CASA program?
Community ambassadors in the CASA program are required to fill out a new CASA application every two years. In the interim year, community ambassadors must fill out a CASA Program Renewal form.