- Prepare international professionals to be tomorrow’s leaders
- Promote cross-culture understanding for world peace and prosperity
- Connect Michigan with international visitors and their organizations for exchange and collaboration in order to solve local problems and world challenges
- Boost the local economy
- Build a strong network of MSU international alumni ambassadors around the world
As the director of the Visiting International Professional Program at Michigan State University (MSU), I am very proud of the impact of our program. In 2017, VIPP hosted more than 400 international visitors from China, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Estonia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal who are professionals, specialists, business owners and policy makers from diverse backgrounds. About 150 of these visitors spent four to 12 months at MSU for professional development, and some brought their families. Others came to MSU in groups for intensive short periods, ranging from 1 day to 2 weeks to engage in professional exchange and training.
I had the privilege to meet most of the visitors, to lead some of the group programs, and get to know the participants. One of my favorite things to do with our international visitors is to talk about MSU and the State of Michigan at the program orientation on their first day in East Lansing. For most of them it might be the first day of their very first visit to the U.S. Although I am still a relatively new member of the MSU and Michigan community, having moved here only two and half years ago, I enjoy “bragging” about MSU’s land grant legacy. Like a real Michigander, I like to use my right hand to give our visitors all the fun facts of our state. Between the beautiful Upper Peninsula (UP), the Great Lakes and our unique recreation areas, Michigan’s leading automotive and manufacture industry, our vibrant agriculture, and Detroit-based rich African American and immigrant culture, there is so much to know about Michigan. I truly enjoy sharing with our visitors and understand when some of the short-term visitors say “I wish that we could stay for a few more days to explore Michigan.” I know, however short their visit is, they take the Spartan spirit and a piece of Pure Michigan home with them.
Fortunately, our long-term visitors have the luxury to travel extensively in Michigan and around the U.S. Last fall, we hosted a group of six young journalists from the China International Publishing Group (CIPG). They documented their study and life in MSU and Michigan in a 10- minute video, which is an amazing testimony of the impact our program had on their professional development. I was so pleased to hear that when they returned home, they used the video as part of their visit report. The impact of VIPP now extends to CIPG leadership and hundreds of CIPG professional employees. A reproduced shortened version of the video can be viewed on our YouTube channel or at vipp.isp.msu.edu/about/our-mission.
Through VIPP programming efforts, we impact individuals and organizations at home as well. In 2017, more than 100 MSU faculty members from different colleges and offices across campus engaged with our international visitors. More than 20 Michigan based organizations in both public and private sectors, as well as NGOs, also engaged with our participants. These organizations were chosen from a wide range of industries including education, law, media, agriculture, forestry, food, finance, tourism transportation, etc. Such international exchange promotes idea and knowledge sharing, cultural understanding, and long-term collaboration that benefits U.S. organizations.
One of the things that I am really proud of is that we are a team of entrepreneurs. Through competitive processes, we secured $116,115 U.S. federal funding in 2017-18. Our main source of funding is through fee-for-service activities, which generated almost $1.5 million in revenue in 2017-18. With this level of revenue, VIPP is sustaining seven and a half full-time jobs and around 15 regular part-time teaching jobs each year.
Most significantly, VIPP brings a direct impact to the local economy. Our international visitors and their families contributed close to $3 million to Lansing and East Lansing economy in 2017. Most of the participants travel extensively in Michigan and the U.S. for both professional and leisure purposes, which further contributes to the state and national economy.
VIPP has worked very hard and creatively over the years with a lot of support from all of our stakeholders. With a network of more than 4,000 VIPP alumni, which includes many prominent scholars, business leaders, and senior government officials, we are well positioned to promote international exchange and citizen diplomacy, which are essential for world peace, security, and prosperity.
Director of VIPP
April 7, 2018