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  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development

Every August, a new international cohort of Cornell Humphrey Fellows arrives in Ithaca, New York. While each Fellow is an accomplished professional in their own right, many begin their fellowship feeling lonely, uncertain, and disconnected from their family and home country. That’s where we—the Friendship Partners—come in.

The Friendship Partner Program is a part of the Humphrey Fellowship experience that matches Fellows with local community members. We provide Fellows with another friendly and helpful American face, give a feeling of connection and family, and serve as a “cultural bridge” and resource, adding to the overall sweetness of the program.

For Friendship Partner volunteers —many of whom already have a global perspective and love traveling—it is a wonderful, enriching chance for us to continue to travel vicariously while getting to know others from around the world to share thoughts and experience new things. We do it for the service, the joy it brings us, and the lifelong global friendships it so often inspires.  

Some of the common activities provided by Friendship Partners include:

  • Celebrating holidays or birthdays
  • Going ice skating
  • Eating a meal out or cooking and sharing traditional foods together
  • Carving pumpkins
  • Enjoying a waterfall hike

In the reflections below, Friendship Partners give just a taste of what the 2020-21 Friendship Partners have experienced with Fellows.

Reflections from the 2020-21 Humphrey Fellowship Friendship Partners

Friendship Partner

Kristin Ramsay

"My niece spent 2 summers in Estonia - that's why we requested Madis and his wife Kaisa. We could tell very quickly they were a great family. Madis’ family even visited my sister’s family and went on a hike. My sister just said, ‘I think this will be an ongoing friendship!"

Friendship Partner

Phil Syphrit and Katy Heine

Even with coronavirus, we have been able to get together a few times.  When Alma was feeling incredibly busy and stressed she was telling us how we were saving her life with tea and muffins in the backyard and fresh air. It's been just wonderful.

Friendship Partner

Doug and Donna Stauffer

“We enjoyed Pern and loved her attitude about snow. She hadn't been in snow before but was willing to fall down in it, throw it, and play with it! We’ve learned so much too about minority groups and indigenous peoples in Thailand. Every year we learn from our Fellow.

Friendship Partner

Makda Weatherspoon

“With us being from Ethiopia, it was interesting to learn from Teddy what’s happening back home. Also, the project that he's working on and the influence and positive things he's doing are amazing.”

Friendship Partner

Debra and Jay Miller

“We have a son from South India, so getting to know Pakistan’s work and culture from Mohsin has been a joy and pleasure for the whole family. We also were glad he could join us at Easter. Hoping the friendship continues!

Friendship Partner

Lorraine Maxwell

“This was my first time being a Friendship Partner and I was very, very happy to have Keddy. By the time we could meet in-person, I took her to the winter farmers market. It turned out to be one of the coldest days in Ithaca! I've certainly enjoyed learning more about Botswana and how birds contribute to issues of biodiversity.” 

Friendship Partner

Allison Chatrchyan

“We were so happy to be paired with Tata from Armenia, my husband's home country. When we went to the airport to pick her up, she greeted us with beautiful gifts. And we thought: This is a family member! My daughter was thrilled to be with Tata and now can't wait to work with her on a future AI project.”

Friendship Partner

Aaron Goldweber

“Saukira and my family just started scratching the surface of things we have in common: music, martial arts, history, politics, communications…I always appreciated his calmness and when a lot of other things were going crazy in life, that gave me a lot.”

Friendship Partner

Katy, Susanna, and Art Pearce

"We so enjoyed getting to know Manoj and his family. We’ve been to Nepal and are involved with a Nepali-focused NGO called Educate The Children, so it was nice to share things in common and have the family over for tea and a picnic."  

Friendship Partner

David Stotz

“When Husnain arrived in Ithaca, we had a wonderful time traveling around the city, showing him the sites, and helping him get settled. He gave my wife a beautiful scarf, which she loves, while he gave me a Pakistani traditional hat that I wear with pride as something different.”

Family of four sits on steps
Selfie of group at picnic
Selfie of two women in front of waterfall
Family of six poses for a photo
Family of three poses for a photo
Keddy stands in the snow
Two individuals pose in front of a waterfall
People go iceskating at a rink
Selfie of a group at a picnic
Man poses for photo in front of a waterfall

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