Graphic image with leaves and title of program

Betty Grimwood Thanksgiving Host Program


Are you an American who would like to host an international student or three for Thanksgiving dinner on November 23, 2023? 

The Betty Grimwood Thanksgiving Host Program at The University of Kansas is coordinated by the department of International Support Services.  It provides international students the opportunity to experience the Thanksgiving holiday with an American family.  For many of these students, this will be their first experience in an American home. The success of the program depends upon families who will extend their hospitality to students from other lands.  These students do not expect to be entertained constantly throughout the holiday.  They simply want to view and experience how Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and everyday life. 

Common Questions from Hosts

The international students who sign up may come from any of the nearly 100 different countries represented at the University.  Participants can be of any nationality or age.  Occasionally, a married couple will choose to participate. Most students have no difficulty with the English language; however, there may be a few participants who are here studying English and have a more limited vocabulary.

Almost all international students come to the United States with the hope of experiencing the different aspects of American life as well as share their own culture.  This program provides an excellent opportunity for international students to view life from a non-university setting and serve as “ambassadors” for their own cultures and customs.

  • During International Student Orientation, we explain the program and invite interested individuals to apply.  We also advertise the program in various campus and community media.
  • We try to match interested students with families of similar interests and requests.
  • Families and students will receive general information about each other approximately one week before the scheduled stay.  
  • We ask the students to call or email the families to introduce themselves.  Then, we ask the students and families to make direct contact with each other to finalize expected arrival times and locations.
  • The family should expect to provide transportation for the student(s). Many international students do not have cars. 
  • We will ask all participating students and hosts to complete a waiver form prior to the event, as required by KU policy.

We hope that you are interested in the Homestay Program and would like to host a student!  If so, please click the button above to fill out the application.


Common Questions from Students

This experience is free to all international students and scholars from KU. However, we do charge a refundable $25.00 deposit, to make sure that the students who sign up do participate. All students who attend dinner as expected will receive a full refund of the $25.00 deposit. 

The American families who volunteer to host often spend a lot of time, money, and energy preparing the meal and get excited about sharing their home. We want to make sure that the students who sign up do participate, and we don't disappoint our volunteer hosts.

We understand that things may come up - if an emergency occurs after you have been matched with your hosts and you cannot attend, please contact ISS at Depending on the circumstances and how much advance notice you are able to provide, you may receive a refund. Otherwise, you forfeit your deposit.

We work hard to place our students with hosts who can accommodate dietary restrictions, and ask questions about this on the sign up form for both hosts and students so we can make accurate matches. 

However, all hosts participate on a volunteer basis and may be preparing a very traditional Thanksgiving meal for their extended family and friends, in addition to hosting international students. To help you have an enjoyable and successful experience, we encourage you to:

  • Submit your dietary restrictions on the sign up form.
  • Share any concerns or preferences with your hosts when you introduce yourself.
  • On Thanksgiving, ask your hosts about what is in each dish. They will work hard to provide you with a good meal that fits your needs, however, there may be many dishes and they may forget.

Hosts often pick their students up in the morning or early afternoon on Thanksgiving day, and return the students in the evening, after dinner ends. 

Students should plan to keep all of Thanksgiving Day free. Once they are matched, it is the responsibility of the students and hosts to communicate with each other about the details of arrival and departure times.

Homestay option: Some hosts live further away, and are interested in hosting over-night students for a multi-day stay. If you are open or interested in seeing more of Kansas and building a deeper connection with your hosts, please indicate on the form that you are interested in the homestay.

Yes! Many of our host families have children and grandchildren who may be present. They often welcome the spouses and children of our international students. Please indicate how many dependents you have on the sign up form so we can plan accordingly.

Yes! If you would like the same host as another international student friend or roommate, please mention that you would like to be placed together when you complete the sign up form. You both must submit the form. 

Newspaper clipping from The Burns News front page from 1959, featuring story about host program

Newspaper article from February 6, 1959 about the original host program started by Betty Grimwood.

Photo of international student smiling next to turkey on the stove

Former international student with their first Thanksgiving turkey!

Newspaper clippings about international student return to their host family in 1989

Story in a local paper from 1989 about an international student's return trip to visit their former Thanksgiving host family.