For 50 years, international students have been welcomed, supported and celebrated at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. SIUEâ€™s International Hospitality Program (IHP) applauded that fact and re-emphasized its mission at its 50th anniversary, held Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Morris University Center, Conference Center.
SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook, PhD, and Director of the Office of International Affairs (OIA) Mary Weishaar, PhD, presented certificates to the IHP founding members and members representing the different decades.
The celebration was entitled, â€œGlobal Welcoming,â€� according to Gaby Renteria-Poepsel, OIA international student programming advisor.
â€œSince its inception in 1969, the International Hospitality Program (IHP) has served as a community organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of their member families and international students at SIUE,â€� said Renteria-Poepsel. â€œFrom what we know about the history of IHP, as SIUEâ€™s enrollment grew, students from various countries chose the Edwardsville campus to pursue their academic interests and those new international students faced many challenges, changes and adjustments.â€�
Based on the IHP history written by one of the early members in the 1970s, Doris Gvillo, the program started with the goal to develop a program to assist international students get settled with fewer difficulties. Dr. Fred Chambers, SIUE academic advisor for foreign students, and his wife, Dr. Dorothy Chambers, joined other SIUE professors and staff, and other interested families to form the International Hospitality Program.
â€œIt has been my privilege and my blessing to be acquainted with young people from all parts of the world,â€� said Reba Klenke, an IHP founding member. â€œIt is extremely important that IHP continues, and provides opportunities for students and host families to expand their world.â€�
Over the years, Klenke has hosted students from Australia, India, Iran, Pakistan and China.
â€œWe have had a wonderful time,â€� added Klenke. â€œI consider Meise Lam Fahsl (of Hong Kong and SIUE alumna), one of my children, and she considers me a mom. Hosting international students expands your world, and expands your heart to love people from everywhere. Because of this, my children have grown up with a broader understanding of people and life. My grown children have also hosted international students.â€�
Today, IHP is comprised of approximately 122 community members, who are paired with SIUE international students, as a â€œfamily away from homeâ€� friendship program. IHP families include international students in family activities like holiday celebrations, family dinners and sightseeing. The OIA works closely with IHP by providing financial and logistical support. IHP organizes events for SIUE international students, and regularly collects and distributes apartment and housing supplies to international students.
Reba Klenke, an International Hospitality Program founding member, visits with her â€œdaughterâ€� SIUE alumna Meise Lam Fahsl, of Hong Kong. Fahsl earned a bachelorâ€™s in business administration in 1973.
SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook visits with IHP founding member Klenke.