Larry Karnes, chairman of International Friendship Program, has been a host since 2005. “Each year IFP will have 70 new participants and 200 international friendships going on.” Karnes said. This year IFP has participants from 42 countries.
Binbin Wang shows the photo taken with her host Larry Karnes and Susan Karnes. Wang joined International Friendship Program in 2013, and after graduated from MSU in May 2014, she talked with Karnes through phone call everyday. “I call Larry as ‘My American Dad’,” Binbin said, “Larry gave me so much support during my hard time when I was suffering from my grandma’s death and he always act as my mentor when I am choosing from different jobs.” Wang is planning to apply for her master degree in fall semester at MSU currently, “I felt I have a family here in East Lansing, so I’d like to come back.”
Elisha Defrain, committee member of International Friendship Program. Born and went to school in Michigan, Defrain never got a chance to be a friend with a person from another culture until she met her student Sissi Hsien, an undergraduate student from Taiwan. “She is so mature and always gave me inspiration from different perspective, and for me becoming a host means opening my horizon to the world.” Talking about the future plan for IFP, she said, “I’d like to get more word out.”
World Game Night, with its slogan “Come and bring games from your culture, learn new games from other countries”, was first started by Amanda Ghanbarpour from Hope Church in August 2016. “It’s all because once I saw a statistic showing that only 13% of international students get a chance to step outside of their community and have an access to get into our community,” Amanda said, “That’s sad for me because based on my own experience of being a foreigner in other countries, if there is no one offering, I am not willing to be the one pretending to be their friends. So I decided to be the one reaching out.”
“Food is always building us bridge between cultures,” Carla Bieber said. Bieber cooked the carrot cake for potluck and Meng Chou brought scrambled eggs with tomatoes, it’s a dish her mom always cook for her at home.
Duncan (Carla's oldest son) is decorating eggs with international students. “I’d like to bring my kids a world that are outside their surroundings, just around this table.” Carla said. Carla also wants her kids to learn how to communicate with people of different culture background and admit cultural diversity, “It is surprising that my kids see students from different countries just like themselves, they felt they have a lot in the same, and they became friends.”