University of Iowa

Friends Without Borders

A  matching program connecting U.S. students with international students from around the globe

Friends Without Borders

Friends Without Borders will begin its fourth year in 2018-19 and is designed to pair incoming international students with U.S. students who are interested in making international student connections. It's a great opportunity to be part of an exciting program that offers personal enrichment while also helping to create a more dynamic and integrated campus. All domestic undergraduate students who will be enrolled for the 2018-19 academic year are encouraged to apply for one of the set number of spots.

This program assigns new international students to their U.S. matches even before arriving on campus. The paired students are encouraged to communicate via email “pen-pal’ style prior to the start of the fall semester. Then the paired students will eventually meet with each other for the first time at a kickoff event sometime in September 2018 (TBD). After this initial kick-off event, pairs are encouraged to keep up the connection by getting together regularly during the semester.

There is a Facebook closed group that you can join and the group is created to provide updates, post photos and videos of activities that pairs might have done as a pair. Check out the Facebook page here.

As the year proceeds, there will be smaller events, activity suggestions and updates on ongoing contests in which pairs compete for prizes via email or Facebook. Pairs are strongly encouraged to do something with their paired students at least twice a month and there will be plenty of things to do, to go and to see.

This program is not designed to require a high level of commitment from students but, rather, offers a light structure of events and resources upon which to grow initial acquaintances into friendships that may go well beyond the one year for which this program is designed.

If you are a new international and U.S. undergraduate student interested in joining Friends Without Borders 2018-19, please email Taivna Mills at to register and we will be in touch concerning whether you have been paired with another student. 

Check out other photos from past events here.

Activity Points

Below is an example of one of the ongoing contests among pairs for which prizes were awarded during the 2016-17 year of the program. Similar contests are projected for 2017-18.

1 Point
  • Each member creates their own Facebook profile if they don’t already have it, and posts to FWB page
  • Post a selfie to the FWB page of the two of you attending any on- or off-campus event
  • Carve a pumpkin together for Halloween and post a pic to the FWB Facebook page
  • Play sports together
  • See a movie together
  • Visit one of the UI museums together
  • Attend an event together that is part of one of the Cultural Centers celebration months/weeks at the University of Iowa.
  • Work out at the Rec Center together
2 Points
  • Name your team and post the name to the FWB Facebook page
  • Attend the Iowa City Farmers Market together-- Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. - noon and Wednesdays 5-7 p.m. in the Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp through Oct. 29
  • Check out a bike together from the Iowa City Bike Library Saturdays 7:30 am – 3pm
  • Cook your favorite food dish together, post pictures AND the recipe to the FWB Facebook page
  • Watch a non-English movie together
3 Points
  • Attend a Life in Iowa event together
  • U.S. students: invite your friend to a group activity with your other friends
  • International students: invite your friend to a group activity with your other friends
  • Create a 60-second video together on how to do an off-campus activity and upload to Facebook
  • Create a 60-second video together on how to do something (ride the Cambus, eat at Burge, check out a book, etc.) around campus and upload to Facebook


Questions about Friends Without Borders? Want to be more involved in program development and leadership? Please contact Taivna Mills, International Services Associate, by email at or phone 319-335-0335.