For many Michigan State University international students and their families, Dan Winter plays the role reliable friend, wise mentor and kind grandpa.
Winter, executive director of Friendship House MSU, coordinates programs and services to help those families learn English and make connections in the East Lansing community. He joined the organization about two years ago after he retired from a career in business.
“I am not selling anything,” Winter said. “My primary goal is what do students need and how I can help them.”
Along with volunteers, Winter works to make Friendship House a home for international students and their families. Representatives of different nations and religions come to the house talk about a variety of topics, share concerns and support each other — alongside improving English language skills.
The house as a staff of two people plus a team of volunteers to teach conversational English.
“Sharing love and a smile is more important than anything,” Winter said.
Jaime Madrigal to his brother’s home in Lansing from Mexico with a goal of improving his English. He said he sees a connection between his progress and the atmosphere in the house.
“In the morning, Dan meets each of us, greets everybody and offers coffee,” Madrigal said. We really feel like at home. I couldn’t improve my English with a lot of courses in my country. But here, even if we take conversational classes I see a big progress.”