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MEAL at DePaul is back!

​​​​​It is official. After a long COVID hibernation, International Student and Scholar Services has brought back MEAL with DePaul!  This spring, on April 22 and 23rd, fourteen DePaul faculty and staff households hosted 60 international students from all over the world in their homes for a meal.  Associate Director of International Student and Scholar Services (ISS), Jennie von Drehle notes, “When I came back to the office on Monday, my inbox was flooded with emails from students and hosts sending pictures and telling me how much fun they had and how grateful they were for the opportunity.”

One student wrote to their host:
“We had so much fun learning about different cultures and sharing some of our culture and experiences as well. The food and hospitality that we received showed so much of your thoughtfulness. I loved meeting your family and it was my first-time meeting visiting home who is not Indian. I am going to share all the good things that I felt today with my family as well. I hope you continue to host next year as well, and more students can have this great experience.” Suchita Farkiwala – Indian Undergraduate Student

Meet Eat and American Life with DePaul (MEAL with DePaul) provides a chance for DePaul faculty and staff to locally engage with our global student community in a vital way.  Through this program, our international students have an opportunity to experience the diversity of U.S. food and culture by visiting a DePaul faculty or staff member’s home.  For students, it is the beginning of a positive experience on the road to U.S. acculturation and integration.  For interested hosts and their families, it is an opportunity to explore and learn more about the different global cultures represented within our community.  You don’t have to be a top chef or have a large home to be a host; students are simply looking for real personal connections with the DePaul community!

a group of people posing
Photo Credit: Jennie von Drehle

Each year students from more than 100 countries around the world study at DePaul University.  You will find these students on campus and in classrooms engaging with the DePaul community in many meaningful ways. 

In anticipation of the spring program, one host wrote:

“We look forward to this meal every year and really missed it during the pandemic. The Afghan young women whom we hosted for Thanksgiving in 2021 really left a mark on our family's hearts…It's a way that my family can tangibly live out our faith by showing kindness to the foreigners among us.” Elizabeth Stock – Host, Adjunct faculty and IB advisor in the College of Education.

The ISS team could not organize such a warmly hospitable event without the gracious volunteering of DePaul faculty and staff to engage with students in this personal way.  Jennie added, “I am so grateful for their willingness to support our international students and help them feel welcome here on campus and in Chicago.”