Friendship Circle Info

What is the Showa Boston Friendship Circle?

The Friendship Circle matches pairs of Showa students, usually young Japanese women, with community volunteers for cross-cultural exchange and recreational activities.  Volunteers often invite students to participate in daily life routines, interesting activities with them.  Some, but not all, Circle Volunteers invite students to their home for meals or just relaxing.  By sharing your own unique culture with Japanese students, you can expand your global perspective and form lasting friendships.

How do I benefit?
  • You will gain a deeper understanding of cultural differences, appreciate your own culture by sharing it, help eradicate Japanese and American stereotypes of one another, and have fun!
  • You are welcome to use campus facilities while with your students, such as our cafeteria, indoor pool, exercise rooms, game room, and tennis courts.
  • You are invited to Cross-cultural Learning Seminars, tea ceremonies, festivals, concerts and other events.
What should we do together?

Students want to experience “real” American life, so most of what you do in your daily life will be new and interesting for them.  Some suggestions recommended by veteran volunteers are:

  • Cook a meal at your home, with the students helping you shop and prepare the food
  • Share photos, which often leads to talking about differences in American and Japanese lifestyles
  • Visit friends or relatives, especially for special celebrations such as birthdays and holidays
  • Play sports and do outdoor activities, attend local school or professional sporting events
  • Play card games together such as Uno, play board games using English such as Scrabble
  • Attend student-led functions at local universities or volunteer activities such as walk-a-thons
  • All we ask is that you include them in your already existing activities, even if it means going to Costco.
How should I act?
  • Speak to the students clearly, slowly and in simple sentences. If they don’t understand you at first, try writing it down.  Students often understand the written word more easily than the verbal.
  • Be patient and open to discussion when communication problems or roadblocks occur.
  • If you bring students to your home, help them feel comfortable.
How long does the Friendship Circle last?

Our typical group of students are here for 4-5 months.

How many students will I host?

We generally match two students with each volunteer, so that the students are comfortable and can share their experience with their student partner.  There is also the option to host three students.

How often should I meet with my students?

Typically volunteers meet with their students twice a month.  At a minimum, see them at least once a month.  Students enjoy spending as much time as they can with their Circle Volunteers.  After many visits with you, they can really connect with you, understand your unique culture and relate it to their own Japanese culture.

What do I do if there is a situation that I want to discuss (successes and/or challenges)?

You can contact Erin Naumann, the Community Outreach Coordinator at 522-0080, ext. 4008 or Louis Meucci, Director of Student Services at ext. 4507.  They will do their best to help you have a wonderful experience.

How do I contact my students?

You can call the Showa main number, 617-522-0080 and then dial 5, followed by the student’s room number.

For example, if the student is in room 607, you would call 617-522-0080, then dial 5607.  Students also have e-mail access.   Please ask the students for their e-mail address.

Who pays for off-campus activities?

Students are told to pay their own expenses when doing activities with Circle Volunteers.  Please don’t hesitate to ask them to pay for their own ticket, meal, etc.  However, if you really want to treat, please feel free to do so.


We have done our best to create user-friendly guidelines within which student/Circle Volunteers interactions can take place, while also honoring Showa’s responsibility to take care of our students.

The Guidelines are:

"New Circle Volunteers" (First-semester participants)
  • New Circle Volunteers are asked to visit Showa for an orientation and campus tour, to clarify expectations and explain the administrative aspects of the programs.
  • During their first semester, the Coordinator will provide helpful support for new Circle Volunteers to ensure that they have a successful experience.

All Circle Volunteers:

Campus Visits:

  • Please sign in at the front desk when arriving on campus and sign out when leaving the campus.
  • You can use Showa facilities with the students any day of the week until 9:00 PM in the evening.

 Off-campus visits:

  • Please enter the Showa lobby when picking up and returning students, to fill out the Circle Volunteer sign-out book at the front desk. 


  • 9:00 PM (Roll-call in the dorms is 9:15)
  • Curfew extensions (only until 11 PM) for special events (concerts, sporting events, etc.) are possible if the students fill out a permission form beforehand, and the Coordinator approves it.

The students have a 9:00 PM curfew.  At 9:15 there is a roll call in the wings and every student is accounted for.  In order to make it simple for everyone to understand (Circle Volunteers, students, RAs, Security), the “school-night” curfew for the Friendship Circle is 9:00 PM.

Overnight Stays:

  • A permission form must be filled out by the students and approved in advance for all overnight stays. Overnight stays at the home of single men are prohibited. Volunteers can help by reminding students to fill out these forms.


Showa Boston Institutefor Language and Culture

420 Pond Street Boston,
MA 02130 USA

TEL:617.522.0080, x4419

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