Community Ambassadors for Students from Abroad

The CASA program (Community Ambassadors for Students from Abroad) provides a unique opportunity for international students to experience U.S. culture with local community members from the Platteville area, and for local community members to learn from and build relationships with students from all over the world.

Students do not live with their assigned community ambassador(s); however, as participants in the CASA program, students would be paired with a family or individual who lives in the Platteville area. Approximately once per month, community ambassadors invite their student(s) to participate in daily activities with them, such as attending a sporting event or birthday party, going shopping, going out for coffee, making dinner, or traveling to a nearby city. This will give students the opportunity to get to know more about U.S. culture by experiencing it with a local U.S. American or U.S. American family.

New degree-seeking international students who arrive in the spring would have the opportunity to be matched with a community member starting the following fall.

  • Community members participating in the CASA Program are not required to provide home stays; students provide their own housing. However, community ambassadors are encouraged to include their student in activities that they had already planned on, such as a family dinner, movie night, a sporting event, or a holiday gathering. It is preferred that CASA Program participants live within a 25-mile radius of Platteville.

    Community members and international students are paired together at the beginning of the fall semester and are expected to meet approximately once per month. Although the expectation is that community ambassadors participate for the full academic year (fall and spring semesters), community ambassadors who are not available for a full academic year may note on their application that they prefer to be be paired with a student for fall or spring semester only.

    Community ambassadors may be paired with degree-seeking international students, semester-long or year-long exchange students, and/or Master’s students in the Wuhan, China, cohort that comes each spring.

    At the end of each academic year, students and community ambassadors will have the opportunity to renew their participation in the program with their current student(s) or request to continue with the program with a different student(s). However, a new CASA Program application must be filled out once per year to renew participation.

    Community ambassadors will also be expected to attend at least one CASA Program orientation session and a Meet & Greet kickoff event (during which volunteers will meet their student) at least once per year in the fall semester. (CASA ambassadors for spring semester exchange students would also attend an orientation and/or meet and greet at the beginning of the spring semester.)

    Review these resources for more information:

  • 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 and English Language Program (ELP) international students.

    As a Community Ambassador, whom will I be matched with?

    You will be matched with a degree-seeking international student, a student in the English Language Program (ELP), 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, 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!

    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 and students should keep in contact regularly with each other 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 students' stay in Platteville varies. Some come for a semester or a year, 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 are available for the fall semester only or the spring semester, 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 be paired with more than one student at a time?

    Yes, community ambassadors may host more than one student at a time. In fact, it is highly likely that community ambassadors will be paired with more than one student at a time. 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 developed during the program are 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(s)?

    Matches will be made in August and/or January of each year. UW-Platteville will host a CASA program orientation session for community ambassadors and students 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 and spring semester. CASA ambassadors paired with exchange or ELP students who are only here in the spring, and ambassadors for the Wuhan, China, students in the Master of Science in English Education (MSEE) cohort would attend an orientation and/or meet and greet at the beginning of the spring semester.

    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?

    If you are matched with a student who will only be at UW-Platteville for the spring semester, you will be invited to an orientation and meet-and-greet in late January or early February.

    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 and complete a Criminal Background Check Form. For a printable application form, please e-mail isss@uwplatt.edu. All applications are due July 15.

    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 year and a new Criminal Background Check Form once every four years.

  • International students are invited to participate in the CASA program: Community Ambassadors for Students from Abroad, a community friendship program which provides a unique opportunity for international students to experience U.S. culture with local community members from the Platteville area. As an international student, getting involved in the CASA program will provide you with the opportunity to meet local Platteville community members that will help you adjust to Wisconsin and the U.S. lifestyle as well as share cultural insights.

    Students do not live with their assigned community ambassador(s); however, as participants in the CASA program, students would be paired with a family or individual who lives in the Platteville area. Approximately once per month, community ambassadors invite their student(s) to participate in daily activities with them, such as attending a sporting event or birthday party, going shopping, going out for coffee, making dinner, or traveling to a nearby city. This will give students the opportunity to get to know more about U.S. culture by experiencing it with a local U.S. American or U.S. American family.

    The formal match with your community ambassador lasts for one academic year, from September to May. However, international students may choose to continue their participation in the CASA program for as long as they are a student at UW-Platteville, with the same community ambassador or a different one.

    In order to ensure the friendship works, students are responsible for responding promptly to phone calls or emails from their matched community ambassadors. They are also responsible for upholding commitments they have made to meet with their community ambassadors or providing adequate notice if they cannot be present.

    New degree-seeking international students who arrive in the spring would have the opportunity to be matched with a community member starting the following fall.

    To request a Host Family, contact isss@uwplatt.edu.