The Porch Light Program is an initiative organized by members of the London community in cooperation with the International and Exchange Student Centre at Western.
In every culture, there is a place in one’s home of welcoming and gathering. Historically in North America, this place was often the porch (the outside entrance area of one’s home) where a home owner welcomes neighbours, friends and families.
Traditionally, when the porch light was on, it meant the home owner was at home and was providing a light to show the way up to their porch and inviting people in. They might ask you in for a cool drink, or a rest in the shade, or a hot tea and friendly conversation.
Through the Porch Light Program, this same warmth and welcome is extended to new women international students at Western.
The Porch Light Program provides new international women students (undergraduate and graduate) with the opportunity to connect with women living in the London area for one afternoon per month for 6 months. The London women (Porch Light Community Hosts) can be sisters, colleagues, neighbours or friends who team up to host a small group of female international students in their homes each month. The goal of the program is to help new international women students through the transition period of adjusting to their new life at Western and in Canada. It offers student participants a ‘home away from home’ and a chance to meet and develop friendships with other international students in the program and London community members. Through Porch Light gatherings, student participants share conversation, practice English (if needed), and have fun talking and participating in activities – such as Canadian seasonal events, making homemade Canadian recipes, etc. – together with their hosts.
Each Porch Light Women’s Circle has 2 or more Community Hosts, 1 volunteer Student Host, and 5 to 7 international student participants. The student participants are international women students who are new to Western and London, and who have not previously participated in the program. They may be undergraduate, masters or Ph.D. students.
The Porch Light Women’s Circles remain together for one academic year, during which each Circle holds a series of get-togethers known as Porch Light Gatherings. The Gatherings take place once per month, from October through March, in the home of one of the Community Hosts. The Gatherings are held on a set weekend each month, either on a Saturday or Sunday, and they normally begin at 1:30 p.m. and last until the early evening (4:30 p.m. or 5:00 p.m.).
The Porch Light Community Hosts are women who live in the London community who are aware of and understand the challenges of adjusting to life in Canada. Because of this, they are interested in opening their homes to international women students to share a welcoming and comfortable environment in which students can experience a "home away from home."
Porch Light was cofounded in 2007 by our community partners Kem Murch and Heni Ritchie and the International and Exchange Student Centre. The Porch Light Program accommodates a limited number of women. As a result, not everyone who applies for the program will be able to participate. Only individuals who can commit to attending one Gathering per month will be considered for the program. Participants will be expected to attend a brief orientation in the fall, and will also be invited to a Porch Light Potluck in March.
All Gatherings take place from approximately 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
There is no cost to participate in this program. Transportation from Western to the Porch Light Hosts’ home (and back to Western) will be provided for you, free of charge.
The schedule for Saturday gatherings is:
2014: October 18 (or 25), November 15, November 29
2015: January 10, February 7, March 28
The schedule for Sunday gatherings is:
2014: October 19 (or 26), November 9, November 30
2015: January 11, February 8, March 29
“The program helped me quickly adapt to the life here in Canada and the kind hostesses would always give us advice for all the difficulty we encounter here. It gave me a feeling of HOME and I made a lot of friends”
“They are really really great hostesses. They are warm-hearted, helpful, kind and treat us well. They are just like our grandmother”
“Every month when we go to the meeting we would share with each other what we have been up to in that month and the happy things and difficulties we encounter. Then I would know that I was not the only one who got frustrated. We would discuss the problems we have and try to figure out how to resolve it as well as encourage each other. This was a really a great benefit for me”
“very helpful. talking to group members is a wonderful experience. it help me releasing pressure. it's very relax. And it makes me feeling at home. It's really happy”
“Fulfilled my life, met new friends, practiced my skills”
“I learned how to love because my hosts are so kind and caring.”
“It was such a great opportunity to know about Canadian home living styles, canadian culture and event celebrations. It was also a time to get to know many friends and have fun together.”
“I got to know about festivals in Canada and culture of other countries like China and Bangladesh”
“I shared my own traditional culture and brought happiness to others” “All the activities were awesome, especially Chinese New Year and Halloween party”
"doing things together and sharing about one another's lives and most importantly is the feeling like a part of the family(sense of belongings)”
“feeling of being home and that knowing someone here in Canada actually do remembers you and cares about you!”
“If I did not participate in this program, I would not get a chance to get into a local host's home and get to know them. Culture sharing and understanding is an essential part of university. In that aspect, I was helped a lot”
“Highly recommend newcomers to participate in!”