International Cultural Exchange

Group welcomes international students to Texas

For the past 12 years, volunteers with International Cultural Exchange have provided an opportunity for visiting college students from around the world to become better acclimated in America and Houston.

"We started out being Friendship Partners at the University of Houston about 20 years ago, and then we realized there were international students in our own neighborhood," said Janet Giesen, president and founder.

Although volunteers do not host the students at their homes like a typical foreign exchange program, the organization works with students from the Lone Star College System's six campuses in Harris and Montgomery counties and hosts various parties and events throughout the school year.

"I've lived in another country before, and it affects the way you feel about the home country," Giesen said. "When they're nice to you, it changes your attitude and you have a good feeling about that country. On the flip side, we Americans need some education, so we exchange cultures and learn things."

Nancilea and Matt Foster have volunteered with International Cultural Exchange for about seven years, either helping out at events or hosting a game night and potluck dinner at their home.

"When I was in college, I got involved with an organization that paired international students with Americans, and I really enjoyed all the friendships I made with international students on campus," Nancilea said. "When I moved back to The Woodlands, I wanted to find something like that, so we made some phone calls and got hooked up with International Cultural Exchange, and it was a perfect fit for husband and me."

Most of the activities put on by International Cultural Exchange volunteers take place during the academic year, and LSCS students have the chance to attend sports games in Houston or dinners with local volunteers.

"Our organization is about friendship and exchanging cultures," Nancilea Foster said. "The idea is to create an environment where international students can get to know American families and Americans can get to know students from all over the world."

Two of the biggest surprises for the international students who arrive to LSC are typically the heat and the friendliness of Texans, Giesen said.

"If you say to them, 'Welcome to Houston, I'm glad you're here,' they almost cry," she said.

International Cultural Exchange typically hosts a graduation party to celebrate the end of the year and a Welcome to Houston party in the fall.

Volunteers with the nonprofit can help with any number of things and activities, ranging from attending events to helping students feel welcome to hosting dinners at their homes.

"That's what the organization is all about—having American volunteers who can connect on a relational level with the international students," Nancilea said. "These international students studying in the U.S. are going to be the leaders when they go back home, so that means building friendships and relationships is so important for American diplomacy."

International Cultural Exchange, 281-655-0770,

By Marie Leonard
Marie came to Community Impact Newspaper in June 2011 after starting her career at a daily newspaper in East Texas. She worked as a reporter and editor for the Cy-Fair edition for nearly 5 years covering Harris County, Cy-Fair ISD, and local development and transportation news. She then moved to The Woodlands edition and covered local politics and development news in the master-planned community before being promoted to managing editor for the South Houston editions in July 2017.


Renderings of the conceptual tower were shown depicting a roughly 100-foot tower, but the intent is to build a smaller tower. A total of $2.43 million was given as an estimated cost for a 100-foot gravity tower, but presenters said the cost would scale down with a smaller tower. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Early concept for Frisco’s Northwest Community Park includes biking tower for ‘gravity riding’; Perky Beans Cafe now open in Leander, and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 20.

Color Me Mine Cypress relocated to a new studio space Oct. 2. (Courtesy Color Me Mine Cypress)
Color Me Mine Cypress relocates studio after 10 years in business

The pottery painting studio has been in Cypress for about 10 years and offers a range of projects as well as events for children and adults.

Heather Lagrone, Adrienne Holloway, Luis Guajardo, Maya Ford and Charleen Jones sit onstage while Holloway introduces the audience to the Harris County Housing Needs Assessment study on Oct. 19. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Kinder Institute housing survey results reveal Harris County's needs

To meet the need for additional, more affordable housing for only 20% of the 500,000 cost-burdened residents, 8,174 housing units would need to be added annually through 2031, according to the study.

Jubilee will be located south of Hwy. 290 and west of the Grand Parkway. (Courtesy Johnson Development)
New 1,620-acre community under development in Hockley

Approximately 4,800 homes are planned for Jubilee, and pre-sales are expected to begin in early 2023.

Want to know more about new businesses coming to the Katy area? Below you can find details on the five latest commercial projects filed in Katy. (Courtesy Canva)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Read the latest top news about restaurants, businesses and other commercial projects that are coming soon or now open

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 19.

Huberty will retire at the end of his fifth term in the Texas House of Representatives, where he introduced bills focused on public education reform. (Brooke Ontiveros/Community Impact Newspaper)
Kingwood Rep. Dan Huberty announces retirement after 10 years

Huberty will retire at the end of his fifth term in the Texas House of Representatives, where he introduced bills focused on public education reform.

Burro & Bull is opening this fall in Cypress. (Courtesy Burro & Bull)
Burro & Bull opening soon at former Corky's Ribs & BBQ location in Cypress

The new eatery’s barbecue menu will feature smoky queso, boudin balls, smoked brisket flautas and the entire sausage lineup from Henderson & Kane General Store.

Harris County Commissioners Court's revised redistricting map as of Aug. 31. (Screenshot courtesy Harris County Commissioners Court)
Harris County Commissioners Court to take public comments on redistricting Oct. 21

The meeting will be held at the Harris County Commissioners Court, located at 1001 Preston St., Ste. 934, Houston, at 4 p.m.

The new H-E-B store is located on Ronald Reagan Boulevard in north Leander. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: New H-E-B in Leander opening soon; Texas Supreme Court grants rehearing for high-speed rail eminent domain case and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 18.

In September, Prioritize & Organize opened offering decluttering services to customers in the Greater Houston area. (Courtesy Ashton Wilson)
Spring-based Prioritize & Organize now offering decluttering services across Greater Houston area

Prioritize & Organize, an organization and decluttering business based out of Spring, opened in September.

Early voting for the Nov. 2 election runs from Oct. 18-29. (Graphic by Community Impact Newspaper staff)
When, where in Cy-Fair to cast an early vote for Nov. 2 election

Statewide propositions are on the ballot in addition to three positions on the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees.

Texas Medical Center: Coronavirus patient numbers drop 25% in one week, dip below 800

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center institutions has continued its decline.