For many years, Wellesley’s Hostess Program has been matching Wellesley alumnae, faculty and staff members with incoming international students who are traveling alone to the United States. The program begins one to two days before the first year pre-orientation program and serves to welcome international students to the Wellesley community.
Yuxi Xia ’20, a first-year international student from China, expressed her appreciation for the program.
“I truly enjoyed the time that I spent with my hostess,” Xia said. “Even though my flight was delayed and I only got to spend one day with her, I felt that my hostess truly cared about me and I was warmly welcomed by her family. My hostess took me to shop for bedding and school supplies. and we had a picnic at an oceanfront park where we enjoyed the beautiful sunset.”
Xia’s hostess, Mary Kay Gleeson ’86, also enjoyed participating in the Wellesley College Hostess Program. She heard about the program through an email from the College. Gleeson and Xia communicated via email during the summer and got to know each other fairly well prior to Xia’s arrival. Although Gleeson’s family had not had any prior experience with international students, they were very excited to welcome Xia into their home.
“My high school daughter. Caitlin, in particular, was quite interested in being part of the program. We are looking forward to maintaining our connection with our student and would definitely be involved again in the future,” Gleeson said.
In addition to enjoying her time with her hostess, Xia felt that having a Wellesley hostess helped facilitate her transition to college.
“We established a really good relationship,” Xia said. “It is comforting to know that there will always be someone there for me to talk to and turn to for help whenever I need it. The program definitely introduced me to the sisterhood at Wellesley.”
Even though Yuxi has just settled into her new life at Wellesley, she is eager to visit her host family again. “I absolutely look forward to seeing my host family again. I am delighted that my hostess’ daughter Caitlin will come to visit me soon,” she said.
Yuanzhen Pan ’18 also enjoyed the time she spent with her hostess.
“My hostess is such a great person and she is like a Wellesley big sister to me. She gave me lots of wise advice — from navigating through resources on campus to determining what to major in at school,” Pan explained.
Pan was matched with hostess Rachel Lomasky ’01 in 2014 when Pan was an incoming first-year. Her hostess picked her up at the airport, showed her around Boston and helped her move into her residence hall. The close relationship between Pan and her hostess did not end when school started. They grew closer throughout the years, attending various events on campus together. They kept each other updated on the fun things in their lives and sometimes had meals in the dining halls together.
“I became friends with her family and especially had close relationships with her children who enjoyed coming to campus for the wonderful dance performances. We also celebrated many holidays together,” Pan said. “Once we had a huge gathering where her whole extended family came and we cooked dinner together. She introduced me to other alumnae and we chatted over meals. Once, she even took me out to celebrate for obtaining my driving license. We kept each other informed of our travel plans and I still came back to her house pretty regularly.”
Because of her positive experiences Pan believes that Wellesley should definitely keep the hostess program running.
“For many international students who are in the U.S. for the first time, Wellesley hostesses will be their first connections to the country. Having such connections will help them be more settled in their new life away from home,” Pan explained.
Having a Wellesley hostess significantly shaped Pan’s college experience. She was thankful that she had the opportunity to establish a long term relationship with her hostess through the program.
“My Wellesley hostess is just like a family member to me and I am appreciative that the program provided me with the opportunity to get to know her better and become lifelong friends with her. She used to tell me about her stories at Wellesley fifteen years ago. As I stay on campus longer, I can resonate with her experience in a deeper way and increasingly feel that I am lucky to be a part of this strong community,” Pan said.