Larissa Hunt, Kalamazoo Valley's Student Admissions Specialist, has recently returned from her second international recruitment trip to Vietnam; and though the trip was hard work, Hunt says she enjoyed every second of it. Both trips lasted about 10 days and were done in partnership, and completely funded by, the Haenicke Institute at Western Michigan University. Hunt is happy to have had the opportunity to represent Kalamazoo Valley in Asia, but she found the combined total of 20+ hours in flight, plus lengthy layovers, to be somewhat exhausting. Hunt said she thinks the trips have been a great benefit to Kalamazoo Valley. “Not only are we strengthening our inter-institutional partnership with WMU, but we are also broadening the horizons for the future of KVCC,” Hunt said.
“International student recruitment has been at the forefront of many admissions officers’ minds in recent years. As the numbers of local populations continue to decline, American colleges and universities are forced to be more creative in their recruitment efforts.” Hunt referenced a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that said more and more community colleges are joining forces overseas to recruit international students. Increasingly, international students are spreading the word about the value and education offered at American community colleges, and the benefit of their use as a gateway to eventually pursuing Bachelors, Masters, or even Ph.D. degrees at American universities.
“Myself and many others at KVCC see the great potential that international recruitment has to offer not only our institution and our foreign guests, but also our domestic students as well,” Hunt said. “The culture, education, world knowledge, and experience international students bring to America is shared by our domestic students, broadening the horizon for all students at KVCC and for many others across Southwest Michigan as they interact with international students. I see this as a great benefit for KVCC. I am eager to continue working towards increasing our strong partnership with WMU and I'm happy to be part of such a new, exciting endeavor.” While in Vietnam, Hunt took part in numerous education fairs, many similar to the ones she attends here in the U.S. These fairs serve as an opportunity to meet with prospective students and their parents and families. Hunt said Vietnamese parents play a very large role in the education decisions of their children.
“The fairs are long, and often hot, but they are enjoyable,” she said. “The interactions with students are all very different, and new questions seem to arise in every conversation. I enjoy the busy-ness and the fast paced atmosphere of meeting with hundreds of families in such a short period of time. I can only hope I made the impression on them that they have made on me.” While each trip involved challenges, Hunt said she found the people of Vietnam to be warm and welcoming. “The Vietnamese are very gracious hosts to their foreign guests,” she said. “I always received a warm welcome at every stop I made, whether at an international hotel or a small road-side food cart. The friendliness and eagerness to learn was present in every conversation I had while in Vietnam. My overall impression of Vietnamese students is that they are very intelligent, dedicated students. Many parents save every penny they have to send their student to the US to receive an American education; our education system is highly regarded as the best in the world, and students are excited about the prospect of receiving such a top-notch education.” Hunt said she is confident that the trips were worthwhile. “Overall, my ventures as an international recruitment rep have been truly exciting and life changing,” she said. “Not only has this been a great opportunity for me as a young professional, but I also feel that this has been an amazing opportunity for KVCC to continue in its pursuit of remaining a leading institution of higher learning in Southwest Michigan. I hope to see the partnership between KVCC and WMU continue to grow, as I am confident this can be a very lucrative and rewarding relationship for both institutions.”