UNESCO conference attendees to enjoy home stays for true Eugene experiences

EUGENE, Ore. -- (April 22, 2009) - The University of Oregon hopes to make impressions on international visitors with hometown hospitality when they visit the Eugene-Springfield area in May for a first-of-its kind conference in the United States.

The Friendship Foundation for International Students (FFIS) will host 17 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chairs for the "Ethics, Religion, and the Environment" conference May 8 to 11. The conference, hosted by the University of Oregon's Center for Intercultural Dialogue, will coincide with the annual meeting of the chairs within UNESCO's Intercultural Dialogue Program. This is the first time the chairs will meet in the United States.

The hosts, who receive no compensation for the program, include university faculty and administrators, as well as families in the Eugene-Springfield community. Host families will meet visitors at the airport, provide lodging, some meals and daily transportation to and from campus. According to UO international student adviser, Becky Megerssa, the volunteers believe in FFIS' cross-cultural mission and enjoy meeting people from other countries.

"The Friendship Foundation is thrilled to be partnering with the Center for Intercultural Dialogue in hosting the UNESCO Chairs because this is exactly the kind of opportunity FFIS believes in and wants to support," Megerssa said.

The foundation focuses on cultivating cross-cultural friendships by placing international students with host families for short-term home-stays. Since its inception in 1950, the Friendship Foundation has played an important role in welcoming international students to UO.

FFIS is one of the oldest and most active community organizations dedicated to befriending and supporting the international community at the UO. FFIS partnered with the School of Music and Dance in 2008 to host visiting students and faculty from Korea and will partner with the UO Department of Art to host visiting students and faculty from China this summer.

Seventeen of the 19 chairs in UNESCO's Intercultural Dialogue Program will attend the annual meeting. The Chairs - from Austria, France, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Tajikistan, the UK and Uzbekistan - will present on their research on Friday, May 8 in the Erb Memorial Union. Most events associated with the "Ethics, Religion and the Environment" conference are open to the public and free of charge. An opening reception will take place on Saturday, May 9, at 6 p.m. in the Lillis Hall Atrium. The keynote address by Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-founder and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, will follow. For more information and schedule details, visit http://unesco.uoregon.edu.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of the 62 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Contact: Julie Brown, UO media relations, 541-346-3185, julbrown@uoregon.edu
Written by: Sarah Lilly and Lauren Switzer, assistant media relations project leaders for the 2009 UNESCO Conference, 971.235.1942, slilly1@uoregon.edu, lswitzer@uoregon.edu
Source: Steven Shankman, 541-346-4150, shankman@uoregon.edu
Link: UO Center for Intercultural Dialogue, http://unesco.uoregon.edu