As early as 1933, the President of the University League spoke of efforts to provide 51 foreign students at the University of Wisconsin with social contacts. For many years, church and service groups, the YMCA and YWCA, and University and Madison families offered hospitality to foreign students who came to our campus. With the tremendous increase in numbers of visiting students following WWII, numbering 475 in 1952, the need for a central organization to promote and facilitate hospitality became apparent.
Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS) was organized in 1952 as a non-profit association sponsored jointly by the University League and other educational, civic, farm, labor and religious organizations. The original purpose was to create good will and friendship between international students at the University of Wisconsin and families and individuals in the Madison area by helping these students make friends and by fostering opportunities for the exchange of ideas.
From its inception the purpose of Madison Friends of International Students has been to give Wisconsin people a chance to get acquainted with our foreign visitors and to give visitors a chance to share in our home and community life. An initial contact with a student which grows into a sustained relationship during their stay and beyond provides an avenue for expanding knowledge and understanding of each other’s cultures, customs, ideas and aspirations and leads to friendship, goodwill and tolerance.
The organization was incorporated in 1967 as Madison Friends of International Students, Incorporated.