Tomodachi Program


What is the Tomodachi Program?

Tomodachi is the Japanese word for friendship. The program is a way for the American Studies Program (ASP) students to meet people outside of the university bubble. It is a friendship program, not a homestay program. One or two ASP students are matched with a participant for a semester (either Spring [April-June] or Fall [Sept.-Dec]) or the entire year. The participant and student should plan to meet at least once a month for an activity such as dinner in the participant's home, celebrating an American holiday, attending a school musical or sports event, go shopping or on a picnic. The student and participants, through their friendship, will have an opportunity to share their cultures with each other.

How can I become involved in the Tomodachi program?

Interested participants must submit an application, and agree to a criminal background check. Those checks will be run every three years if you continue in the program.  

If you are interested, please fill out the application. You can do this two ways:

E-mail the program coordinator to request more information ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Download an application form to mail or fax to TIUA.

How are the students matched with the participants?

Students and participants are matched on several criteria. The students have filled out questionnaires and that information is used in selecting a match. If the student has a special interest or hobby, we try to find a participant who shares that interest or hobby.  That isn't always possible, of course. So the pairing may be random. Requests for male or female students will try to be honored.

What are some activities I can do with my student(s)?

Students are interested in the American experience. Feel free to invite your student to participate in your daily family routine, join you at special celebrations, backyard barbecues, your children's activities, etc. Ask your student about his/her culture--how are things done in Japan? They will be glad to share their culture with you as well.

What if I have questions about what is or isn't culturally appropriate?

Call the office at TIUA (373-3300) and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Three times during the year, we will have some sort of group activity for Tomodachi participants. Call TIUA or watch our website, facebook page, or e-mails for the date, time and place of those activities.

What kind of American manners are uncomfortable for Japanese students?

Some Japanese students think Americans talk too much and would like to have more silent time to figure out the situation before answering. Some students feel they must decline offers of food or beverage to be polite, but then hope the host offers again or just serves what has been offered. Some students have difficulty refusing an invitation and will say "yes" but not show up at the appointed time. These are generalizations and do not apply to all students all of the time. A key phrase in Japanese is, "It depends on the situation."

What if my student asks to stay with me for one or two weeks?

This program is not a homestay program. If you would like to have the student stay in your home and you invite them, this is fine. However, we discourage overnight stays.  If, like many families, you are very busy and prefer not to be a host for overnight or week-long guests, please explain to the student that this is not a homestay program. You are not obligated to be a homestay family and we encourage the students to participate in other programs if they desire a homestay situation. For your reference, housing is always available to students at TIUA or WU throughout the academic year (including vacation periods).

If you wish to have your student stay overnight with you or your family, a TIUA staff member will conduct a home visit to determine whether or not the accommodations are appropriate/adequate.  Each student needs to have his/her own bed, preferably in their own room.  Also, the student must complete a request form and obtain permission from their parents.  Additionally, every time you invite the student to stay over, TIUA needs to be notified in writing.

What if my student has a medical emergency?

All ASP students carry health insurance and should have their insurance card with them at all times. If you have a medical emergency, you should call 911 first. Then please call the TIUA 24-hour phone number (503-559-0154) and tell us what happened.   A staff member will go to the hospital or assist you over the phone. Students also carry the emergency phone number so that they may contact TIUA staff at any time.

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at (503) 373-3330. Application forms can be faxed to (503) 373-3399 or mailed to TIUA, 1300 Mill Street SE, Salem, OR 97301, attention: Barby.

Click here to download Tomodachi Program Information (PDF)