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A familiar Foreign Service
scenario: arriving at a
strange airport at 11 p.m.
with no one to pick you up;
opening the door to your
completely unfamiliar new
home and discovering the
fridge has 6 eggs, a loaf of
bread and a plate of brown-
ies to satisfy your family of
fve for 24 hours; fnding the
welcome kit safely packed
in boxes at 3 a.m. after 36
hours of travel.
It doesn’t have to be this
way. A good sponsor can
change this all too common
scenario with thoughtful
preparation. As you may have
experienced, frst impres-
sions of your new home and
ideas about the community
are made in the wee hours
after landing.
• The most important frst
step: volunteer to sponsor.
If you have been at post 6
months or more, you are
ready to share the knowledge
you have gained about your
post. Sponsor a new arrival
that matches your family
dynamic or someone who will
live near you—both options
have benefts.
• Once you know who you
will be sponsoring, reach out
to them right away, provid-
ing them with your personal
e-mail address. Answer their
questions, but also ask them
about any needs or special
circumstances. Ofer support
right from the get-go. Reply
to their queries in a timely
manner with a calm and sup-
portive voice.
• New arrivals can be anx-
ious, so avoid sharing dirty
laundry, spreading rumors or
bemoaning something that
is out of anyone’s control. Be
blunt about the air pollu-
tion, and suggest ways to
deal with it. Be fair about the
crazy drivers, while giving
tips on how best to man-
age the roads. Temper your
suggestions with reasonable
expectations and refrain from
using the words “always,
never, everyone, or no one.”
• Ofer any assistance you
can from post. Do they have
something they’d like to send
ahead? Kids especially love
to fnd familiar toys or snacks
waiting in a new home. Keep
sponsorship in the back of
your mind during your regu-
lar errands, especially at the
grocery store.
• Speaking of groceries,
stock in enough of the basics
(and any items your new
arrivals have asked for) to
last three days times the
number of people arriving.
This is important. Food is
a stressor when there isn’t
enough to tame a jetlagged
starving toddler, teenager
or adult! A good lasagna
or other prepared meal is
always appreciated (ask if
anyone has food allergies).
It is not your job to foot
the food bill, so be sure to
discuss repayment or if they
want to set an expenditure
buying anything
on their behalf.
• Do a walk-through of
their new home a day or
two before they arrive. Do
the keys work? Is the water
distiller working? Does the
alarm function? Ensure
that the welcome kit is fully
unpacked and ready for use,
the beds are made and sup-
plies are laid in. If a pet will be
arriving, don’t forget the cat
litter and food.
• Leave a list of phone num-
bers with yours at the top.
Include the embassy, Post
One, health unit, local clinic,
vet, hair salon or barber,
school and motor pool.
• Leave some delivery
menus, invite them to your
home for dinner (if you are
up for it, invite a couple of
others, including the AFSA
post rep), or plan to take
them out.
• Ofer to keep them busy
and help them through jetlag.
A walk around the neighbor-
hood, a visit to the local mar-
ket, shopping mall, or school
helps them to get their bear-
ings, with the added beneft
of keeping them awake.
• And lastly, consider arrival
day. Will they arrive a day
before a long weekend when
the city shuts down? Would
they appreciate some DVDs,
books or board games?
Yes, it takes a little time
to be a sponsor, but don’t be
daunted. A good sponsor can
help to ease arrivals into their
new surroundings and create
a positive frst impression,
something every post can be
proud of.
Michele Hopper, an Army brat
and FS spouse, has served in
the Philippines, Togo, India and
currently Jordan. Mom to four and
co-community liaison ofcer at post,
she understands the importance of
having—and being—a great sponsor.
Sponsors: Supporting New Arrivals Right from the Get-Go
Take the new arrivals for a walk to a local shopping street or neighborhood.