Host Site Visits: Minnesota State University Mankato & Missouri State University


Minnesota State University Mankato

This semester, Global UGRAD Program Officer Sarah Halligan had the opportunity to visit Minnesota State University (MNSU) Mankato. It was an opportunity to meet with various departments within the university and also meet the five students who attended MNSU Mankato this spring: Abdoulaye Hali Aboubacar (Niger), Ayu Silvia (Indonesia), Khamla Invongkham (Laos), Sharon Colindres (Honduras), and Yena Kang (South Korea).

Students sit with their world learning advisor at a table smiling as they eat lunch together
UGRAD students dining with Sarah Halligan. L-R: Abdoulaye Hali Aboubacar (Niger), Ayu Silvia (Indonesia), Sharon Colindres (Honduras), Khamla Invongkham (Laos), Yena Kang (South Korea), Sarah Halligan (World Learning)

Visiting host partner campuses is always a helpful and useful experience for World Learning, as staff can get a better idea of what life is like for the students there. The UGRAD students who attended MNSU Mankato this spring had many positive things to say about the university and were thriving even during the cold winters Minnesota is famous for. Sarah met with them several times throughout her visit, including getting lunch with them in the newly built dining hall on campus and going ice skating with them during an event organized by the MNSU Mankato International Office. It was a pleasant experience to see the students in person and get to know them better. She met many of the friends they had made and learned about what their lives were like both inside and outside of the classroom. Sarah also had the opportunity to attend one of their favorite classes and saw them thriving in that classroom setting.

In addition to meeting with the UGRAD students, Sarah met with the international advisor on campus, Madeline Wildeson. Madeline set up many opportunities for Sarah to meet with various departments across campus and get a better idea of how they support the UGRAD students throughout the semester. For example, Sarah met with the Accessibility Resources Office, which was especially helpful to a previous UGRAD student at MNSU Mankato.

Two students stand smiling on an ice skating rink
Khamla Invongkham & Yena Kang enjoy an ice skating event on campus

The campus itself is beautiful and has several amenities that UGRAD students enjoy, including a bus system that allows students to get around town using their student ID cards. Another feature on campus was the climbing wall in the recreation center. A student advisor introduced Ayu Silvia to this wall after she arrived on campus, and she continued to climb throughout the semester. Another interesting feature of this school is that most of the buildings are connected via tunnels and indoor bridges. These allow students to get from building to building while avoiding the coldest days of winter.

Sarah left MNSU Mankato with the overall impression of the phenomenal nature of this partnership and a desire to continue to send many students to this university. Despite its cold location (which might be a shock to some of the students from warmer countries), the university and the international office specifically foster an environment that is warm and welcoming. They orchestrate numerous events for the students to get involved in, and the school shuttle system makes it easy for them to get off campus and engage with the community. World Learning is proud to partner with MNSU Mankato and looks forward to sending more students in the coming year.


Missouri State University

UGRAD students and Michelle Bolourchi at the MSU Dining Hall. L-R: Hima Zouberou (Niger), Ketlande Desilien (Haiti), Madhusudan Ghimire (Nepal), Kseniia Holovchenko (Ukraine), Amir Hasanain (Gaza – Palestinian Territories), Michelle Bolourchi (World Learning), Franklin Ruiz (Guatemala, center)

On February 28 and March 1, Global UGRAD Program Manager, Michelle Bolourchi, visited Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield, Missouri. MSU was established in 1905 and is the second-largest public institution of higher education in the state, with around 27,000 students. The campus is a short car ride away from the Springfield airport and is located adjacent to downtown. Six UGRAD students attended this semester: Amir Hasanain (Palestinian Territories), Franklin Ruiz (Guatemala), Hima Zouberou (Niger), Ketlande Desilien (Haiti), Kseniia Holovchenko (Ukraine), and Madhusudan Ghimire (Nepal).

Michelle had the opportunity to meet with all six UGRAD students for dinner in the dining hall and learned about their experiences on campus. She met with staff from the International Programs Office as well as the directors of the Center for Community Engagement, the Disability Resource Center, and Residential Life. She also had the chance to visit Ketlande’s dorm which is on the 9th floor of Sunvilla Tower and offers amazing views of the campus and city. The international student advisor, Dr. Kelly Hayes, is a dedicated partner and loves hosting UGRAD students, having come to MSU as an international student herselfShe arranged for Michelle to attend two classes – one with Hima and one with Madhusudan – and provided a tour of the campus and downtown.

Ketlande Desilien taking Michelle Bolourchi on a tour of her dormitory

Michelle was impressed with the level of support students receive as well as the facilities, including the new, state-of-the-art recreation facility, the outdoor stadium, and plentiful dorms on campus. She also was amazed at the tasty french fries in the dining hall and the frozen custard at nearby Andy’s – a local favorite!