Who we are
Friendship International of Austin is a non-profit organization with a goal to help women make the adjustment to life in the United States easier. We provide opportunities to make friends as well as opportunities to improve upon English skills.
Our main purposes are to help international women in Austin:
Improve upon their English
Develop creative skills
Help children adjust to an American school environment
Gain a better understanding of American culture and social customs
Learn about Christianity from caring, loving women
Increase awareness of the world
Discover new friendships
Friendship International of Austin (FIA) was born out of a need recognized by the Baptist church community in Austin. In 1968, the wife of an international student at University of Texas (UT) took her life because of feelings of despondency and loneliness. Baptist men and women responded by organizing an outreach program for the community’s international women, especially the wives of students and faculty at UT. In September 1969, Hyde Park Baptist Church opened its doors to provide a meeting place for FIA. One month later, the first “Coffee Party” was given with 100 American ladies and over 200 international ladies and children in attendance. The program was simple: share cultures between American women and international women.
During the first several decades of the program the women shared in many special opportunities. Some highlights of the program included: accepting honorary Texan certificates after touring the capital, attending an assembly program featuring Luci Baines Johnson, attending tea at the Governor’s mansion, as well as sharing special occasions together such as the “World of Christmas” in 1974. The ladies also gathered for Summer activities, picnics, ice cream socials, vacation bible schools, and bible studies.
Originally The University of Texas gave Friendship International of Austin the name and number of every international student and faculty members wives. The women of FIA would call and visit everyone on the list and personally invite them to FIA. Later on, privacy laws created a challenge in connecting FIA ladies with internationals. This didn’t halt the ministry of FIA though. The program continued to ebb and flow with many variations of the program being offered over the years.
In 2010, Friendship International of Austin registered with the State of Texas and became a recognized non-profit organization. Since 1969, more than 15,000 international women from 65 countries have come to FIA. Friendship International of Austin continues to strive to meet the needs of the growing international population in Austin through free English and creative classes as well as through the friendships formed within those classes. We hope you’ll come join us!