By Sam Jones
Staff reporter

Each fall, Rena Rodriguez and Leslie Grant organize a Host Family Picnic as a part of their role in taking care of the international students. It’s a great initiative that helps the international students get to know their own host families better, other host families, and to be integrated into the Winfield community.

Each international student is provided with the option of being provided with a host family upon their arrival at Southwestern College. These families are members of the Winfield community, that warmly open their homes to these students.

On Sept. 4, Vernon and Cindy Goertz hosted the picnic at their house on TP Hales Rd. It was a very convenient location due to its close proximity to the college, and the entertainment space was fantastic.

Maureen Miles, a three-time host mother, described her motives toward signing up to the program. She said, “It sounded like quite an adventure, and a blessing, as well. Our first experience was fabulous! Several years ago we fell in love with our Singapore student, Albert, and two years later we welcomed his sister Alicia. They are part of our family.”

The international students who arrive on this soil are dedicated, smart, and eager to expand their horizons.

“What a blessing now to a host an Australian Southwestern College student,” said Miles. “We wouldn’t miss this opportunity to share, grow, encourage and learn right alongside him. We love him already!”

Rena Rodriguez, director of international student services, said, “It is a great opportunity and support system for SC International students to have a local host family. Host families enjoy spending time with the international students and learning about the student’s home countries and cultures. It is great program for both the student and the host family.”

The conversations on Thursday night highlighted the reciprocal interest between the students and the host parents. There were stories told of travels and adventure and it really brought the students and the Winfield residents closer.

There were approximately forty students at the picnic along with each of their host families, resulting in a very large group of people. Everyone brought a plate of food and shared dinner. Along with the conversations, it made for a fun and enjoyable night.

Sam Jones is a freshman majoring in communciation. You can email him at