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.