International Studies & Programs


Community members recognized for contributions to international student volunteer program

Annual luncheon celebrates success of MSU CVIP

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Published: Thursday, 16 May 2019 Author: Tammy Pitts

When international students arrive in East Lansing to study at Michigan State University, local volunteers are waiting to roll out the welcome mat. The Community Volunteers for International Programs (CVIP) helps make the transition easier for international students and visiting scholars and their families by introducing them to the mid-Michigan community.  

Bakery cake with the words Thank You CVIP written on it. Cake is on table for CVIP luncheon.

On May 8, CVIP held its annual meeting and luncheon at University Lutheran Church in East Lansing to recognize the contributions of its volunteers, and to honor scholarship recipients. The crowd of more than 70 included retired alumni, faculty, and community volunteers. The mission of the organization is to increase mutual cross-cultural understanding and goodwill between MSU’s international students and visiting scholars and their families, and the local community. 

Tables filled with people sitting for luncheon. Woman at the podium is speaking to crowd.

Many of the attendees at the luncheon said they have been CVIP volunteers for years. According to board members,  there were 350 community volunteers since July of last year. Volunteers are plentiful thanks to word-of-mouth advertising.

“The work done at CVIP is so valuable, and we recognize that value.” - Steve Hanson

Volunteers say navigating the English language is the issue that is most frustrating for international students and visiting scholars. Culture shock is not unusual either, which is why CVIP volunteers plan multiple activities and events to help students and their families meet other people. “We do trips to the museums, bowling, we visit the planetarium on campus,” said Don Christenson, a retired MSU professor who sits on the CVIP board.  

CVIP Board Member and volunteer  Don Christenson
Don Christenson, CVIP board member and volunteer

Christenson says the spouses of the students or scholars often have a harder time adjusting because they are usually left home alone in a new country while their partner goes off to classes at MSU. “They don’t know anybody and it’s culturally different,” said Christenson.


Volunteers with plates at buffet table.

The goal for volunteers is to help homesick students feel more comfortable and acclimated to their new culture. “Whatever you’re doing for the weekend, take them along,” says Marge Weldon, a CVIP board member and volunteer. “You might go to a ball game, out to dinner or to a movie together. We took our student to an American wedding one time,” Weldon said. “It brings the international student into the community kind of life; into our culture.”

Marge Weldon CVIP, board member at CVIP luncheon. She is standing and smiling.
Marge Weldon, CVIP board member and volunteer

Lifetime connections are made between the CVIP volunteer and the international student and their families. Many volunteers remain in contact with the student even after they leave the CVIP program. “The work done at CVIP is so valuable,” said Steven Hanson, associate provost and dean for MSU International Studies and Programs. “And we recognize that value.”

Learn more about CVIP and how you can get involved

Dean Steven Hanson speaking to audience at CVIP luncheon. He is standing at the podium in front of the room.
Steven Hanson, dean for MSU International Studies and Programs


Krista McCallum-Beatty standing at podium speaking to audience
Krista McCallum-Beatty, Director, Office for International Students and Scholars
Female scholarship recipient standing at podium to accept recognition
Shengfang Song, CVIP scholarship recipient

Audience member reading pamphlet during luncheon

Crowd of people mingling before CVIP luncheon begins.

CVIP luncheon. Entrance to basement where luncheon was held. Pictured is table with brochures and information.

Table of food at CVIP luncheon