Archive for International Student Program

WMC has a Christmas Pop-up Restaurant for International Students and Host Families

“The months of December through February are typically the most challenging for international students in West Michigan because they have been here 4-6 months, it is cold and dark most of the time and homesickness intensifies,” says Kyle Kempster, WMC International Student Program director, “add to that the pandemic and virtual learning and it can be even more challenging.” The school has students from Korea, South Africa, Spain and Vietnam.

That is why the school held a Christmas Pop-up Restaurant. “I was talking with Chanho Song, one of our partner agents about the challenges our students face and he suggested the idea of a pop-up restaurant.” This would allow students and families to get outside, eat food that provided a taste of home and we could exchange gifts. The school usually has monthly cultural activities including a Christmas event but Covid has changed that.

Song and Kempster prepared food from the different countries represented at the school. They served Bobotie from South Africa, Paella from Spain, Ddeokbokki (rice cake) and Eomuk from Korea, Pho from Vietnam. Students were asked to bring gifts to exchange and to make a Christmas card for local nursing home resident. The pop-up restaurant was hosted at Ferrysburg Community Church. “It was a good central location and they have an outside heater and a fire pit,” says Kempster.

South African Bobotie
Spanish Paella
Korean Ddeokbokki (rice cake)
Vietnamese Pho (left) and Korean Eomuk

“My son and host son had a great time! I heard all about the fun and how yummy the food was,” shared Jami Dunbar who hosts a student from Vietnam. Sara Visker, who hosts students from Vietnam and Korea enjoyed the event, “It was a great time! Thank you so much for all the amazing food and good company.  The kids all had a great time!

Kempster says he has work to do on his Paella. “One of the students from Spain shared that he really liked it but one told me, ‘It was good Mr. Kempster, but it was not Paella,’ “I am determined to have them tell me it tasted like home,” added Kempster.

Anh Van Trinh, a student from Vietnam, enjoyed the event, “I loved the Pho. This was a fun break from virtual learning. Even though it was outside in the cold, it was fun to see the other students and taste the good food from different countries.”

“Some of these students were unable to return home in the summer and have been here since last year,” said Kempster. “These events can help students adjust to a different culture while continuing their educational program.” Kempster says cooking food from another country helps him understand the students’ cultures. He adds that, “I may fail but I usually get credit for trying. It is interesting cooking with different spices like saffron, curry, turmeric, coriander and cumin because you realize there is a whole different world of flavor out there. And it is nice to experience that with my students.”

Western Michigan Christian High School and Middle School is a 7-12 Christian school in Norton Shores Michigan and is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools that includes Fremont Christian School, Grand Haven Christian School, Muskegon Christian School and New Era Christian School.

WMC’s International Student Program Update Winter 2020

By Kyle Kempster, Head of the International Student Program at WMC

Asian New Year

This year WMC was blessed to host 19 international students from countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year. Traditionally, this is a time when families and friends get together for food, games, and a time of celebration that can also include fireworks. 

There were two students that joined WMC for 4 weeks as part of a winter cultural camp and we celebrated the Asian New Year together with host families, student ambassadors and several international students.

Chanho Song, one of our agency partners, led the celebration of food by bringing ingredients for dumplings rice cake soup. The group of 25 students and host families made dumplings together and enjoyed the delicious feast. They also played board games and a fowling tournament — what is fowling? It’s a combination of bowling and football during which teams take turns throwing footballs at bowling pins. It was a very fun night!

Other students gathered at the Gabel host home for an evening of food and games. They cooked traditional Vietnamese food and had a fun time together. Several ISP alumni joined them.

Winter Camp

For the past three years, WMC has held a winter cultural camp this has included students from China and Korea and has typically been 4-8 students. This year we had two students join us from South Korea.

When students come to the U.S. they sometimes prefer their name but often will choose an American name, mostly for ease of pronunciation and use. Our 8th-grade student wanted an American name but did not have one in mind so his host family, the Mitchells, chose Bronnie, thinking of LeBron James. Bronnie did not say much about the name as it was referred to a bit before he came but when he walked in the door and saw the “Welcome Home Bronnie” sign, it stuck!

Bronnie’s warm welcome from Korea at the Mitchell home.

Our 9th-grade student Yebin was quite shy when she arrived but she quickly settled into her host family, the Viskers, and became fast friends with student ambassadors Kendal Young and Cate Garretson.

The Visker family welcomes Yebin from Korea

In fact, most of the activities became photoshoots for ice skating, sledding, jumping at J3, and even The Bean at Millenium Park. Besides these activities the students also enjoyed painting at Create-a-Frame studio, shopping at Rivertown Crossing, an overnight lake Michigan cottage experience that included traditional Korean food, and skiing at Cannonsburg.

The students also attended classes and one of Yebin’s favorite subjects included Physics during which she participated in a Bungiee Barbie lab with 3/4th graders from GHC.

Bronnie had fun with student ambassadors Henry Hubers, Jake Hwang and Seojin Yeo, and Bronnie’s favorite activities were the ski days at Cannonsburg.

Host Family Round-Up

Our ISP for the 2019-20 school year included 28 students from China, South Korea, South Africa, Spain and Vietnam and we are always in need of host families.

Hosting a student is not always easy but it can be surprisingly rewarding. Some would argue that the host family is the most important element of the ISP because the families have the most impact and spend a lot of time with the students.

This includes church, family activities, helping with homework and making them part of the family. The Gabel family has hosted for six years and have called 6 students their host children. This in addition to their own children.

“We are a busy family with big hearts and a big house,” says host dad Russ. One of the highlights for them was when Man Ho, now a freshman at Calvin University, made a decision to commit her life to Christ and be baptized. Her testimony included the impact her host family, WMC and church had made on her life. Russ and his wife Cindy have had students stay all four years and have become part of their family.

Simon, a former student from China, annually visits them at Christmas time and sometimes in the summer breaks from Purdue. “It is a blessing to have them come back,” shared Cindy. “We love them and they know they are always welcome.”

Hosting also includes the discipline part. And families need to become comfortable treating students like their own. With the same expectations. If WMC has been blessed with great host families that are inclusive and loving. It is a labor of love.

LEARN MORE about hosting an international student.

WMC’s International Thanksgiving

Flavors from Around the World

On Saturday, November 23, 2019, the WMC International Student Program (ISP) gathered at the home of one of our host families, Russ and Cindy Gabel, to celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday.

The WMC ISP twist was the international flavor added to the event.

There were over 50 guests at the event with 5 American students and the rest host families, international student

Each student was asked to bring a food item from their country. There were Patatas Bravas, pasta, and Spanish Chorizo sausage and cheese, and a Spanish omelet from Spain, an egg roll, kimchi egg and candy from Korea, and spring rolls from Vietnam. These were all side dishes to the main course of turkey, ham, stuffing and mashed potatoes provided by the Gabel family. Students and host families totaled more than 50 giving thanks for our school, food, culture, each other, and the blessings we have. The group was joined by Man Ho, a WMC grad and current Calvin College student, pursuing a nursing degree and some friends.

Man Ho (a former WMC international student from Vietnam) graduated from WMC in 2019 and is a current Calvin student. All alums that continue education locally are invited back every year!

This year WMC has 28 students from China, Korea, South Africa, Spain, and Vietnam. Each month the ISP has a cultural activity that has so far included a camping trip and a Fall Festival. Students will celebrate Christmas later this month and there is a spring break trip planned to go to Washington D.C.

Kyle Kempster, Director of International Student Program, and Mar Rabes (Junior) and Carla Ibanez-Costa (Freshman) both from Spain.

Each student lives with an American host family that includes a monthly stipend to help cover transportation and food expenses. This is a great opportunity for families to share faith and culture as well as learning a new culture and developing long-lasting relationships.

Thanksgiving Bonfire:
(left to right) Gene Zhou (12th), Benjamin Sandoval 11th, Owen Varnardo (10th, WMC host family), Pablo Crespo Ballester (10th), Hugo Allende Campillo (10th), Marco Allende Campillo (11th), Hector Sanchez Alcon (10th).

CLICK HERE for more information on WMC’s International Student Program.

Interested in hosting an international student? Please contact Kyle Kempster.

From Korea to an American High School to College

“I Am Thankful for Western Michigan Christian School”

International Student Program at Western Michigan Christian School

The Western Michigan Christian International Program currently has 31 students from 4 countries and includes cultural activities and a spring break trip. We asked Mia, a WMC alumnus, to share her story.

During my time at WMC I flourished the most

internally and spiritually.

I am Myungha Kim, studying International Relations and Data Science at Calvin College, MI. I am thankful for WMC that it provided a great opportunity to grow internally through new friends, teachers, faithful education, various school activities and wonderful host families. As an international student, I had great resources that eased my transition and a great staff to reach out for help.

As an international student, I had great resources that eased my transition and a great staff to reach out for help.

For more information about Western Michigan Christian’s International Program or if you are interested in hosting a student please >> click here.

Western Michigan Christian (WMC) High School and Middle School (7-12th) is located at 455 East Ellis Rd. Muskegon, including 360 students from 5 countries, 30 cities, and 75 churches. WMC is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS), a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Please >> click here to contact WMCS.