Alumni Report

Giving the Gift of Christmas


The Robert and Candace Madsen family hostted four international BYU students as part of the new Christmas Homestay Program.

The Robert and Candace Madsen family hostted four international BYU students as part of the new Christmas Homestay Program.

RITA Palmer Smith, ’73, and her husband, Gary, did not know they would expand their family by six during the Christmas season, but their generosity made it possible for a young Korean family and a Chinese student attending BYU to join them as part of the Christmas Homestay Program sponsored by the Student Alumni International Association (SAIA).

When the newly formed SAIA learned that no means existed to provide a Christmas experience for international students, it formed Homestay under the direction of Naomi Frandsen, ’02.

“Participation this first year was quite small because the program doesn’t yet have a reputation, but the students who were served say they had a good experience,” Frandsen says.

“We shared our Christmas with two married students from Korea and their darling little six-month-old baby,” Rita Smith says. “We also had one student from mainland China who had her parents visiting. They spoke no English, but when my daughter who had served a mission in Taiwan called to say hello, we put the parents on the phone and they had a long chat in Mandarin. We had a brunch for our guests and served some Chinese dishes, which everyone seemed to enjoy. We usually have all of our family home for Christmas, but this year several could not make it, including one son who is on a mission. The international students helped us fill the gap.”

Robert S. Madsen, ’74, and his wife, Candace, also served as Christmas hosts, opening their home for a student from Mexico, a student from Ecuador, and two students from China.

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