New Program Provides Students Second Home

by Nadia Smith

After the excitement of a new school year begins to wear off and the reality of homework starts to sink in, most Transylvania students look forward to the next break when they can head home to get some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

For some students, though, that trip is not so easy to make. A new host family program was approved at the end of last semester to help address this need in the Transylvania community. According to the university’s Web site,, this program is designed especially for “international students, those whose home is more than six hours away from campus and students who would like a little additional support.”

Having seen students trying to make plans for extended breaks, junior Monica Lawson noted, “Knowing that campus will be shutting down, without any idea of where to go, is in some ways a bit terrifying.”

Ashley Hinton-Moncer, director of fitness and wellness, was one of several on campus to recognize a need for such a program.

“Many students may just need someone to give them a tour of Lexington, a ride from the airport or to have a conversation with a parental figure,” Hinton-Moncer said.
According to the online application a host family can provide a wide variety of support ranging from a simple home-cooked meal to storage space and housing during the school year.

Lawson, who collaborated in designing the program, said it would provide a convenient option for housing and interaction during breaks. She said the idea was to provide “a sort of home away from home for students that were in need of such a space.”

Karen Anderson, coordinator of community service and civic engagement, who was also involved in the design of the program, knows herself what it is like to be far from home and has experience working with international students at the College of Wooster.

Anderson said that when international students especially need a little extra support and help to adjust to the culture and the area itself, this program can help to give them a sense of community.

According to Hinton-Moncer, several alumni families are currently available to host students. She said the program reached out to alumni families first because the program is meant to be a natural extension of the Transylvania community.

Natasa Pajic, director of alumni programs, added, “We also thought they would be the best candidates for hosting our students because of their knowledge of and experience with Transylvania.”

Anderson said the program could benefit the host families as well, providing them a great opportunity to get to know a Transylvania student better and teach any younger children in the family what college is like.

In the past, Hinton-Moncer said, most international students have come with arrangements already in place with family or friends in the area. Anderson said that many students also take advantage of invitations from friends or faculty or use holiday time to attend religious services or travel.

Last year Anderson hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for students on campus during the holiday. She said she wanted to make sure people knew that they would have a place to go even if they could not go home.

Hinton-Moncer, Anderson and Lawson expect this program will attract more international and out-of-state students and make Transylvania more of a real home for such students.

Pajic expressed her excitement about the program.

“As a former Transy student arriving on campus in September of 1992 following a year as a foreign-exchange student in Northern Kentucky, from then war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina, I would have been the one to benefit from a program such as this,” she said. “I was fortunate then to have had the support of my parents’ friends as well as several Transy faculty and staff.”

“It is our hope that the host family service will allow students to be more comfortable during their transition to college and create a less isolated atmosphere for students lacking familial support or who are far away from home,” Lawson said.

According to Lawson, the application process is set up to match the student applicant with an appropriate host family based on their needs and wishes. Applications for students and host families can be found at


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