Student Expresses Herself Through Dance and Language

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Audrey Beaumarchais is not your average college student. As a senior at Michigan State University, she is double majoring in International Relations (James Madison College) and Chinese with a minor in STEPPS (science technology environment and public policy). In addition to Audrey’s busy academic schedule, she has a passion for dance. Her unique interests have sparked great experiences for her at MSU. Her freshman year of college she joined the MSU Dance Team and she has also studied abroad in China. Read more about her college journey in our interview with her below.

“Why did you choose to study Chinese?”

“I have always been passionate about languages ever since I was young. I traveled to Europe in sixth grade with the People to People Student Ambassador program. We traveled to Italy, France, and Spain for five weeks during one summer. I attended private school from K-8th grade where I took Spanish classes. I continued taking Spanish and finished with Spanish four (the highest Spanish offered) my junior year. I also took German freshman year. That was an interesting experience, German first hour and Spanish second hour. I would sometimes mix up the languages causing my classmates and teachers to laugh. My senior year of high school I knew I wanted to continue learning new languages. We were able to dual enroll at a community college in my hometown. After some research I decided to take Chinese. I learned Chinese was the most spoken language in the world. I also knew about China’s growing economy and it’s position as a major trading partner of the United States. I thought this would be a great asset and compliment for what I wanted to study in college, International Relations. I had a great experience taking Chinese at Oakland Community College. When I was admitted to James Madison College here at MSU I learned that a degree requirement included taking two years of a foreign language. And so, I continued my Chinese studies here at MSU.”

“Describe your experience in China.”

“I went on a study abroad to China in the summer of 2013. I went with an MSU sponsored program and studied at the Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China. During my three months there, I took language and cultural classes. During the trip I also was able to tour the capital city of Beijing, and the coastal city of Shanghai. I most enjoyed touring Shanghai. It reminds me of New York with obviously a Chinese twist. I learned Beijing was the cultural capital of China while Shanghai was the monetary/economic capital. During my time in China I experience pretty intense culture shock. When people ask about my experience over there I tell them it was very interesting. I grew a lot as a person. I think what made the culture shock so intense and so affective on me was the fact that I didn’t anticipate it because I never had had it before. I learned throughout my experiences there how to cope and became a stronger person.”

“Tell me about your experience being on the MSU Dance Team.”

“I have been dancing since I was three years old; making this year my 18th year dancing. Dance has been my literally been my life. My dad, mom, aunt, uncle, and grandpa all attended MSU. I used to accompany them all to football and basketball games when I was very young. I was a Spartan from birth and when choosing what college I wanted to go to,audrey 3 I had no hesitation choosing MSU. In my childhood room above my bed, I had a MSU Dance Team poster that my grandpa had given me. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to be a member when I was older. The fall of my freshman year here at MSU I got my chance. I auditioned for the team along with 70 other dancers for only two available spots. When I received the news in one of my JMC lectures I almost couldn’t contain my excitement. The next day I began my journey as an official member of the MSU Dance Team. As a member of the Dance Team, we have practices three days a week ranging from 2-3 hours per practice. We also participate in other events on campus and also athletic events, primarily men’s football, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s volleyball. All in all, I am pretty busy with dance team commitments during the week. I love being able to represent MSU at all of these events but my favorite by far is on game day. For football season, while everyone else is tailgating we meet very early, sometimes even 4 hours before game time we meet to practice or perform at various tailgate appearances. Then we head over to Spartan Stadium, and every time I walk through the tunnel onto the field I am overwhelmed with happiness. The atmosphere in Spartan Stadium on game day is like no other and I am so thankful I am able to have the opportunity to dance and cheer on my Spartans at every home game. The same goes for basketball. The Breslin Center is also another one of my favorite places on game day for basketball.audrey 5 It is electrifying being on the court. Even though the atmosphere is different than football, I still love every second of it. It is amazing to watch Tom Izzo, one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history, coach. Some memories I will never forget as a member of the MSU Dance Team include, traveling and dancing at the 100th Rose Bowl Game in 2014 with a Spartan victory, traveling and dancing at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, where the Spartans were named Big Ten Champions, and traveling to nationals with my team to compete with others from across the nation. Overall, I feel honored to be able to contribute and be a part of MSU through my involvement as a member of the MSU Dance Team.”

“Anything else you’d like to add?”

“Aside from game days, one of my most favorite experiences as a member of the MSU dance team was performing and speaking at the international student pep rally. At this event, my Chinese studies and my dance team involvement were able to overlap creating an awesome experience.”

10003888_10152161567380819_10958913_n-1Audrey was interviewed by Mara Ohorodnik, a senior at Michigan State University and the communication intern for the Office for International Students and Scholars. She loves interacting with international students and learning about different cultures. She has studied abroad in Thailand and hopes to continue traveling around the world. Mara is in the college of Communication Arts and Sciences and is also specializing in Health Promotion at MSU.

Student of the Month: Pedram Foushanji


When Pedram Foushanji was an undergraduate student in Kabul, Afghanistan, he was not planning on attending Michigan State. He was not mentally preparing for snow, a large campus, or Big Ten football games.The Fulbright Program had other plans. Pedram was awarded a scholarship to attend Michigan State University, and is now in his second year of his Masters within the Construction Management program.

When Pedram first arrived, he had a hard time understanding how vast the state and campus seemed to be in Michigan since his university in Afghanistan was so much smaller and dense. He has since gotten used to the lay of the land and enjoys traveling all over Michigan, especially to Detroit to attend concerts like Korn and Alter Bridge. In a typical week, you can find Pedram enjoying a meal at Saffron Grill, one of his favorite restaurants in the East Lansing area, hanging out in the International Center, or tailgating at Michigan State football games.

After graduation Pedram hopes to pursue a PhD, and would love to work for a construction company his family owns back home in Afghanistan. Returning to his family and being home in the downtown cafes and music venues is something he looks forward to. Pedram noted that, “Sometimes you need to be away from things to be able to fully appreciate them.”

Pedram started one of the first (and only) metal bands in Afghanistan with his brother, and plays the drums. The band, District Unknown, has an album out (Anatomy of a 24 Hour Life) and will soon be featured in a full-length documentary film.

We asked Pedram for advice and thoughts he would share with new incoming international students and he recalled a story of when he first arrived in East Lansing for International Student Orientation, he lost track of where he parked his bike, and got two Michigan State basketball players to help him find it, by merely describing the windows of the building of which he left it at. Pedram advises other international students to take winter seriously, and to expand their horizon beyond the major they are in, and the classes they are taking, “Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it here. No matter who you are or what your hobby is, there are many student organizations and groups.” And also, make sure you don’t turn the heat off in the winter, a mistake he’s made one too many times.

Pedram did not originally picture himself on the large campus of Michigan State, but he has turned his experience here into a positive adventure of traveling, studying hard, and building lifelong relationships.

W7XnfIL-swzMHCRIalzLxfiMDvmqiOQoWVkOsm-UNzMPedram Foushanji was interviewed by John Nowak, a senior at Michigan State and the OISS Sponsored Student Program intern. He has worked at OISS since last spring and enjoys meeting and interacting with sponsored students from all over the world. John is in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, and also is studying Spanish at MSU.

The Gast Business Library is Hosting an International Tea

The Gast Business Library is hosting an International Tea as a way to provide a friendly venue for interaction between our students and our librarians.  We want to increase awareness of the services that we can provide to aid the success of all of our business students!  For example, each major in the Broad College of Business has its own liaison librarian who can help students find resources for their classes. Come by to enjoy some tea, coffee and snacks and learn more!

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Photo courtesy of Communications and Brand Strategy.

The Gast Business Library’s mission is to support the academic success of the faculty, staff and students of the Broad College of Business and The School of Hospitality Business, as well as anyone in the MSU and local community looking for assistance with business research.

Location: Room 13 of the Gast Business Library. (The library is located in the Basement of the Law College Building)
Date: Wednesday, November 5
Time: 2:00-4:00pm

Please email Emily Treptow ( or message her on WeChat (treptowe) with any questions.

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Emily Treptow is a Business Reference Librarian at Michigan State University. She is specializing in International Business, Career Information, Marketing and Advertising. 


Wendy’s Student Success Story

As an international student, being faced with the task of employment can often be challenging. Many students would describe a successful college career by including at least one internship experience. While this can be true, it is not always the case for everyone as it depends on different factors.

I came to MSU as a finance major simply because I liked business and numbers. At the time, I did not know that a full college experience entailed much more than attending classes. Much of what I learned about Finance was only portion of what I was taught in class; it took a lot of effort to realize this. My experience from finding an internship to securing a full time job after graduation has been a combination of personal effort and using the vast resources the University offers.

When I was a freshman I joined three Business student organizations that were run by primarily non-international students. As an active member, I attended most, if not all, events to gain insight about creating my professional being. Most of the guest speakers sharing their insights would be professionals working in companies I admired. With time, I gained confidence to approach them after events, career fairs and in the hallways. It was nice to know my efforts to follow up worked as I got invitations for interviews – it was another task to figure out how to prepare for interviews.

Most companies that I had the opportunity to interview with had very behavioral based interviews. In the first rounds of interviews, I tailored my answers to qualities that the company valued most. When I was sure that I passed the initial screening and first and second interviews, I began following up with Human Resources (HR) more. This included me mentioning that I was an international student and would require work authorization prior to working, if I was hired. I did this later in the process because I did not want to lose the chance of getting considered as a candidate during the screening process. During second round interviews and after I had gained a bit more confidence. I ensured that I was very conversational with the interviewers. Knowing that I was an international student, I would utilize my experiences from living in different countries and used it to emphasize how a multi-cultural component was essential for organizations. This worked to my advantage more often than not and I was fortunate to have landed an internship with an Investment bank.

While I enjoyed my internship, I wanted to make sure that I was choosing the right career path. I knew that one of the main reasons companies hire interns is to see whether they would be a good full time employee. When offered a full time position approximately a month after my internship ended, I was extremely happy to know that I had secured something. However, I used the gap period before formally accepting an offer (a month in my case) to seek different opportunities. This was mainly to assure myself that whichever opportunity I went with was the final and right decision.

Knowing that I enjoyed my internship very much, I was not opposed to returning. Fast forward to 10 months later, I am now working in a company that I consider very admirable and I can gladly say that I am doing what I have wanted to do, or at least in the right path to doing so. As an international student, I know a little about transition and change- I think this is one of the most important elements when shifting to the working world. Just as I did moving to a different country, I had to adjust to a new state, job and lifestyle. I do miss the free in between classes’ time, the availability of going to the cafeteria and not having to cook after a long day and the option to skip classes if you felt as though you had everything in control (I didn’t do that). Now, I wake up at 6 and leave work at around 6. I only have weekends to enjoy and even then, I need to do laundry, cook for the week, catch up with family and do some readings/emails. If it seems as though I am complaining, I am not- it’s a simple truth that transitioning to an extremely occupied life makes you appreciate free time more. On the other hand, I enjoyed my 4 years of college to the point that I was ready for the next phase in life.

As a closing remark, enjoy college and be smart about your decisions for the future. Be strategic as you plan your exit opportunities and always put yourself first.

Wendy Emali is a 2014 graduate from the Broad College of Business (B.A., Finance) andis currently employed with Goldman Sachs.

You too can find a job like Wendy by applying for OPT (Optional Practical Training). OPT is defined as authorization for “temporary employment authorization directly related to
the field of study.” OPT employment authorization is granted for 12 months typically after completion of degree requirements for F-1 students.. Make use of MSU’s resources on how to apply so you can get on the right track for your career!

Attend the OPT Online session on October 24th from 1:00-2:00pm.  Go to on October 24th at 1:00pm to participate in this webinar. No pre-registration required!

Click here to read our OPT Mythbusters Series to learn about the common misperceptions students have about OPT. You can also learn more about how to apply for OPT on our website.

Entrepreneurship Spirit

“Entrepreneurship comes in many different forms. Some entrepreneurs create scalable technology companies others create humble, but essential, small retail businesses to serve their hometowns. The reality is that both types of business need one another to thrive, and although perhaps very different in regards to the type of product or service they provide they both have the same end goal which is to provide a solution that is valued by their customers.

Over the years many have tried to define the term “entrepreneurship,” but my favorite comes from Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson who defined the term as:

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

I like this definition because it implies that successful entrepreneurs pursue their passion regardless of what challenges lie ahead.

During your time at MSU I challenge you to develop this type of forward thinking mentality. With the right mindset and skillset to acquire resources, you can have a profound impact on the world.

And the good news is that MSU is here to help you along the way.

Over the last several years we, as a university, have begun to invest a good deal or energy and resources to provide students with the ideal setting to pursue their entrepreneurial spirit. The list of resources is quickly becoming too long to explore in one blog post but I would like to mention a few: we have a dedicated student business incubator called the Hatch (, a rapidly growing MSU Entrepreneurship Association student group (, multiple business plan competitions including the Broad College Competition ( and Green Light Michigan ( as well as our own Entrepreneurship Librarian in the Business College! All of these resources and learning experiences are open to you, so make sure to make the most of these opportunities.

In closing my post I would like to talk with you about a few curriculum based course opportunities that you should consider while at MSU.

First, this fall marks the opening of a new space in Wilson Hall called The Hive ( The Hive is a very unique “idea laboratory” classroom, which was developed under a partnership between the Broad College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Communication Arts & Sciences, MSU Innovation Center and Residential & Hospitality Services. This 4,600 space plays host to a number of unique student engagement opportunities, but the primary user is a new course called “Intro to Business Model Creation” – BUS 201 (740) for Spring 2015 (the course becomes BUS 170 next school year). This one credit course is a semester long experience where students work in teams to propose a new business idea and develop an actionable plan to take a product or service to market. It is a dynamic and engaging class that will get you thinking about the components needed to launch a venture.

Secondly, I would also like to encourage you to consider taking the course “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” – BUS 491 (002) for Spring 2015 (becoming BUS 190 next school year). This is a 3 credit course where students are exposed in much greater detail to the mindset, ideation process, and business plan development process necessary to launch and build a business. The course features many guest speakers so that you can learn firsthand from experienced entrepreneurs. It should be noted that this course is a requirement for those who are interested in pursuing the Entrepreneurship Specialization in the Business College which will soon be a university wide Minor.

I wish you all of the best in your endeavors and feel free to reach out to me if I can ever be of assistance. Go forth and do great things and as always, Go Green!”

Ken Szymusiak is Managing Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (IEI) at the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. The IEI is charged with developing and supporting entrepreneurship within the student body of Michigan State University through the development of curriculum, events, business plan competitions and support structures. Prior to joining MSU, Ken served as Co-Director of the New Economy Division at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) where he co-managed a technology focused business incubator and worked to develop a culture of entrepreneurship in the Lansing region. Ken has been instrumental the development of Lansing Startup Weekend, The Hatching – Business Pitch Competition and Spartan Innovations’ Startup Boot Camp. Ken received his MBA from Northwood University and his Bachelors in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University. Ken lives with his wife and daughter in East Lansing.

*Ken Szymusiak will be speaking at the Entrepreneurship Event on November 19th from 5:00-6:00pm in room 115 International Center. He’ll be among an expert panelist speaking about entrepreneurship and answering questions. Comment your questions below to have them submitted before the event!

Student of the Month: Hima Rawal


The Office for International Students and Scholars is excited to begin our “Student of the Month” series for the 2014-2015 school year. Each month an international student will be featured and highlighted on our blog, and in a display case outside the main office in the International Center. Stay tuned for great stories, fun facts, and insight from MSU’s very own international students!

Hima Rawal is more than 7,360 miles from her home in Dadeldhura, Nepal.

Far from her mother’s homemade dal bhat (a rice and lentil soup), far from her 13 year-old daughter Bandana, four year-old son Bardan, and her mother who watches over them while she studies in America.

Far from her uncle’s garden, a “dreamland” of flowers, apples, peaches, and plums that is flush all 12 months of the year. Far from her childhood home, now destroyed, that pops into her dreams every now and then.

But much closer to her dream of becoming a PhD candidate at one of the top public universities in the world.

Hima is one of the Office for International Students and Scholars’ sponsored students through the Fulbright program, and is in her second year at Michigan State. She is studying TESOL; Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Hima’s professor and role model in Nepal graduated from Michigan State in 2006 and returned to Nepal to teach. Hima learned about Michigan State through her professor and said that MSU has been her “dream university” ever since.

Hima says when she got to MSU, the thing she remembers most was the friendly staff, and recalls OISS advisor Nicole Namy being the greatest help during a time when she was stressed and overwhelmed.

“When I arrived, we had a list of things to do. Apply for a social security number, health insurance, bank accounts…I was running here and there, worried that I would not finish my paperwork in time. OISS makes everything so easy. They make you not worry about anything. Once you are at OISS, you feel that you are at home.”

When Hima isn’t busy studying, you can find her at Sindhu, an Indian restaurant in East Lansing where Hima can speak Nepali and Hindi with the waiters and cooks from Nepal. She finds comfort in talking to other international students and immigrants because they are experiencing similar feelings like homesickness and sometimes difficulty adjusting to life in the United States.

Hima looks forward to eventually bringing her children to the United States while she continues her studying.

For now, she will pass the days studying in the MSU library, cooking Nepali meals for other international students, clearing her head on the banks of the Red Cedar and occasionally dreaming of her uncle’s garden on the far Western side of Nepal, 7,360 miles away.

Hima Rawal

Major: TESOL, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Hometown: Dadeldhura, Nepal
Favorite food from home: dal bhat (rice and lentil soup)
Plans after graduation: Apply for PhD, bring children to the US
Favorite place in East Lansing: MSU Library, banks of the Red Cedar, Sindhu (Indian Restaurant)
When she’s not studying: Going out with classmates, having company for Nepali lunch or dinner in her home
Favorite place in Nepal: Her uncle’s garden, full of flowers and fruits year-round
Advice for other international students: If you need anything, let OISS be the resource to help you!


Hima was interviewed by John Nowak, a senior at Michigan State and the OISS Sponsored Student Program intern. He has worked at OISS since last spring and enjoys meeting and interacting with sponsored students from all over the world. John is in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, and also is studying Spanish at MSU.

OISS Director Peter Briggs Bids Farewell to MSU

Peter Briggs OISS Director

Peter Briggs has served in the field of international education since 1974 and as the Director of OISS since 2001. An insightful leader, devoted mentor, and champion for international students and scholars, he will be greatly missed by OISS, MSU and the East Lansing community. While he is retiring from work as a director he will continue to be involved in international education. We wish him all the very best as he embarks on new adventures. His last day at MSU will be Friday, October 3rd. 

After thirteen wonderful years directing the Office for International Students and Scholars at MSU, I will be taking a new life turn in early October when my wife and I will pack up our belongings to return to our home in the Pacific Northwest.  It is with many mixed emotions that I inform the campus community that my last day with OISS will be October 3.  We have developed many dear friends and close associations here and while we are eager to make the move west, we will deeply miss the land of the Spartans.  We hope that everyone can understand our desire to be closer to our families.  We lived in Eugene, Oregon for twenty years before moving to East Lansing and raised both our children there. And, for the record, I was wearing an MSU shirt the day the Spartans played the Ducks a few weeks ago.

The work in OISS has changed a lot in thirteen years since I assumed leadership of OISS.  The most obvious change is the dramatic rise in the numbers of international students and the flip from being mostly graduate international students to mostly undergraduate international students.  The campus is still adjusting to both those changes and the effort to make MSU an internationally friendly campus is unfinished business that will always be ongoing.  OISS has always been a very caring team of people and dedicated to supporting international students, but the mission changed to include more Homeland Security-related compliance work after September 11, 2001. I arrived on campus in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and dealing with massive change certainly was challenging.  I am proud of how well OISS handles the balancing act to make international students feel welcome at MSU while at the same time complying with federal laws that require regular reporting to the Department of Homeland Security.

One of the innovations I am proud to have brought to campus was to foster a stronger sense of community and engagement.  The creation of the weekly coffee hour ( in 2002 has helped to create a place that launched many friendships. We created a well-known regular place to gather and share conversation with people from all parts of the world over a cup of late Friday afternoon coffee or tea.  Social isolation is a concern for international students and I believe the weekly event showed students we cared about helping them form a strong social support network. Something sprang from this sense of community that was more than we could have anticipated. In 2003, through the connections and friendships that students were making at coffee hour, came the creation of the International Students Association (ISA). I am very proud to have played a founding role with what is now a very important campus organization and the most powerful group to give voice to international students. The first generation of ISA leaders was an extraordinary group of people and laid the foundations for the future.   Another program that I brought to campus was the International Student Essay Contest (   This allows students the chance to reflect on their experiences living in a culture other than their own and at the same time gives the wider campus community a chance to read some powerful stories about what it is like to experience life at MSU through the eyes of someone from abroad.  In all of these endeavors, my goal was to help international students feel a strong sense of belonging to MSU and for our students to know they have an office that creates programs and services in recognition of their special challenges.  I always felt it important to support student initiatives and programming as best as we could.  In 2005, OISS worked with the ISP Dean’s Office to create a pool of funding that international student groups could request to support their cultural activities. .  Also, OISS hosts a student leadership dinner each semester in order for us to thank the leaders of the many international student organizations and to explore ways that we can assist them in their volunteer leader roles.

I am often asked how I got started in the field of international education and what changes have I seen over the years.  The profession of international education has changed a lot since I began in late 1974 as a part time ESL instructor at Seattle University.  It was my first “real” job after completing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington.  I was not qualified, but I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time to get some experience.  And I loved the work immediately.  It was a life changing experience for me to get to know so many people from so many countries and realize with some humiliation how very little I knew about the rest of the world.  People who knew me then will tell you that I was certainly full of enthusiasm as I entered this line of work and within a few months, I was asked to be the school’s International Student Advisor.  The fall of that year I attended my first NAFSA conference (  and met so many others who were also working with international students.  NAFSA is the world’s largest organization dealing with educational exchange and has been a big part of my professional development.  These new colleagues at various institutions around the Seattle area gave me a view of the profession that went beyond simply having an interesting job.  As fate would have it, I met David Horner who was then at Washington State University at that first NAFSA conference in 1975 and this was the start of a friendship that goes beyond our work together.  We later served on the NAFSA executive leadership team together in the middle 1990’s when I was serving as the association’s Vice President and he was President-elect.  It was later my honor to succeed him as MSU’s Director of OISS when he retired.  His friendship and my professional association with him go beyond words.

I now reflect over the past forty years with the wonderful feeling of having been allowed to grow into a career in this field of service to international students and scholars.  It has been a privilege that few others enjoy.  We can all complain about certain aspects of any line of work, but I can truly say that I’ve loved working with international students and my international friendships have been a source of continual inspiration to me.

My career highlights center around the many people I’ve had the chance to know over the years.  It has been so much fun to keep in touch with so many of my former students and that has made this line of work extraordinarily satisfying.  As people know I am fond of saying, “when else in your life will you have the chance to know so many people from so many places?”   I have friends in all parts of the world and I have learned so much from them.  I always liked being in a helping profession.

This list could be longer and I always want to express my appreciation to so many people that I’ve enjoyed knowing over the years, but here is a short list of a few of the things that are most memorable to me.

  • I was hired as the Assistant Director at the University of Oregon’s Office of International Services in January 1981 and within two years of arriving in Eugene started the tradition of the weekly coffee hour (yes, I’ve been drinking coffee on Friday’s for many years!) and started the International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) during that same year. I was having so much fun at work, I was learning every day and was totally exhausted.
  • My role at the University of Oregon changed in 1997 when I was asked to serve in a new position to direct a program for international student recruitment. This was a new university initiative and I was the first in the position.  In the four years I directed international recruitment, I was able to travel widely, connect with former students who mentored me about the local recruitment networks and strengthened alumni chapters.  I had incredible experiences and continued to learn so much from others.
  • My career owes a lot to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. I’ve played a number of leadership roles in the association and was fortunate to be asked to be on NAFSA’s third delegation of NAFSAns to China in 1987.  Spending a month in China at the precise moment when China began its system of market reforms to revitalize the economy was a memory that is still fresh in my mind.  I’ve now been to China eleven times and seeing the changes that have transpired there after market reforms opened up the economy has been one of the most amazing stories during my lifetime.
  • I have enjoyed many successes, but certainly my time at Michigan State University has been the highlight of my professional career. I am proud of the OISS team and believe we handle our challenging jobs with distinction. The office staff and mission has evolved over the years as the enrollments have grown.  The current staff is outstanding.
  • I’ve been connected with Global Michigan and its goals to make Michigan the most immigrant friendly state in the country from nearly its inception five years ago and believe in its economic development goals. The language of retaining talented people in Michigan has been a great influence on me.  More recently, I have helped to create Global Lansing which aspires to make our community more globally friendly.  I have loved contributing to the development of both organizations that I believe will have lasting impacts in Michigan.
  • My proudest success has not been at work. I’ve been married to my wife Kathy for 33 years and have two grown children who both live and work in San Francisco.  My family means everything to me and we are looking forward to being able to spend more time with them.

Turning in the keys to the office does not mean ending my work in international education. I’ve been doing international education work since 1974 and while I will not be at a desk or holding a title, I will remain involved in connecting people around the globe.  I like change and this is a big life change that should open up new vistas.  I am on the boards of several NGO’s and plan to continue to make contributions to this profession.  I will also be doing some writing for professional journals.

International exchange gives hope in a world that needs positives. Gandhi spoke about losing oneself in a life dedicated to service to others.  Making friends around the world and working toward international understanding are noble goals for a life’s work.  I am more idealistic now about the possibilities of what can be achieved with the right vision, the right leadership and the willingness to take action.  I am grateful for having had the chance to serve in such meaningful work.  Go in peace, my friends.

Living Abroad

Do you ever wonder how your life will change once you live abroad? With over a million views, the popular article, “17 Things That Change Forever When You Live Abroad” really captures the feeling you get living in another42fb427d89a24006a9be030f854c48de country. Angie Castells, author of her travel blog Mas Edimburgo, is very familiar with this experience. She graduated as a translator from Barcelona and specialized in audiovisual in London. Angie now lives in Edinburgh and enjoys many things like reading, writing, and traveling when she can. You can read the first five points from her article below to get an idea of how life changing this experience can be…

1. Adrenalin becomes part of your life.
From the moment you decide to move abroad, your life turns into a powerful mix of emotions – learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected… All your senses sharpen up, and for a while the world “routine” is dismissed from your vocabulary to make space for an ever rising adrenalin thrill ride. New places, new habits, new challenges, new people. Starting anew should terrify you, but it’s unusually addictive.

2. But when you go back… everything looks the same.
That’s why, when you get a few days off and fly back home, it strikes you how little everything has changed. Your life’s been changing at a non-stop pace, and you’re on holidays and ready to share all those anecdotes you’ve been piling up. But, at home, life’s the same as ever. Everyone keeps struggling with their daily chores, and it suddenly strikes you: life won’t stop for you.

3. You lack the (and yet you have too many) words.
When someone asks you about your new life, you lack the right words to convey all you’re experiencing. Yet later, in the middle of a random conversation, something reminds you about ‘that time when’…, and you have to hold your tongue because you don’t want to overwhelm everyone with stories from your ‘other country’ and come across as pretentious.

4. You come to understand that courage is overrated.
Lots of people will tell you how brave you are – they too would move abroad if they weren’t so scared. And you, even though you’ve been scared, too, know that courage makes up about 10% of life-changing decisions. The other 90% is purely about wanting it with all your heart. Do you want to do it, do you really feel like doing it? Then do it. From the moment we decide to jump, we’re no longer cowards nor courageous – whatever comes our way, we deal with it.

5. And, suddenly, you’re free.
You’ve always been free, but freedom feels different now. Now that you’ve given up every comfort and made it work thousands of miles away from home… you feel like you’re capable of anything!

To continue reading all 17 things that change when you live abroad click here.

Meet the Orientation Captains: Kalila

Have you met Kalila McCoy?!

If you haven’t, we interviewed her for you. Keep reading to get to know her!


Where are you from?

I’m from Livonia, Michigan.

What year will you be this fall?

My 4th year.

What’s your major?

I’m studying Japanese!

Why did you apply to work for International AOP?

I understand that flying from home to come to a new place can be a scary process, and I want to make sure that every student feels comfortable and understand that MSU is a safe, wonderful place to be. Also I want to make friends with all the new students! :)

 What are you most looking forward to as a captain during orientation?

Watching friends blossom being incoming and returning students.

What do you remember feeling as a new freshmen at MSU?

I was so excited, but also very anxious because it was my first time away from home.

What is the most important advice you would like to share with incoming international students?

Get involved! Go to events! Talk to random people! Making friends and joining organizations is the best way to make your experience at MSU worthwhile. Sitting in your dorm room is boring and you didn’t fly so far just to stay in your room right? Going to events gives you the opportunity to meet new people, and with so many organizations on campus, you should take advantage of it!

What does MSU mean to you?

To me, MSU is a home away from home where I can freely express myself and learn from my peers. It’s a community of people there to support you and lift you up.

What is your favorite quote about being a leader?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

 “Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it” – Maya Angelou

Meet the Orientation Captains: Nicola

This week we’re pleased to introduce to you Nicola Chidyaonga!

Get to know Nicola in our interview with her.


Where are you from?

I am from Malawi.

What year will you be this fall?

I’ll be going into my 3rd year (Junior).

What’s your major?

I’m majoring in Interior Design.

Why did you apply to work for International AOP?

I was interested in helping make this transition for the international students as easy going as possible, because I myself am an international student and I have gone through the motions of adjusting to a new culture. I also thought this would be a fun and great learning experience for me.

What are you most looking forward to as a captain during orientation?

I’m looking forward to growing as an individual as well as being some kind of role-model to the incoming international students.

What do you remember feeling as a new freshmen at MSU?

I remember feeling homesick, lonely, and overwhelmed all at the same time. But over time these feeling went away as I begun adjusting and getting involved in the community.

What is the most important advice you would like to share with incoming international students?

My advice to the incoming international students is that they shouldn’t be scared to break out of their comfort zone. Your undergrad experience should be more than just academics. Explore the resources, try something new, learn about a different culture, overcome your fears and just make the best of your undergrad experience…you’d be surprised how quickly time flies!

What does MSU mean to you?

Michigan State University is a community that has pushed me to grow in so many different aspects of my life; from the wide range of activities that have challenged me to break out of my comfort zone, to the number of different people who taught me to be more open minded. Overtime I have also learnt the true essence of what it means to be a Spartan; which to me, is to be someone who gives back to their community, someone who is compassionate, confident, and hard working. This is the sort of person that I strive to be.

What is your favorite quote about being a leader?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams