Families from Honduras who met during Hope’s International Family Orientation (IFO) have turned into some of the most prolific recruiters.

Before classes begin each fall, Hope offers IFO, a unique program for families of third culture kids and international students to support them while their freshmen get settled on campus.

“They are sending their students thousands of miles away from home,” said Zoe Abadi, an orientation program coordinator. “We want them to learn all about life in Michigan and what it will be like for their students on campus.”

“After spending a week together, the families often develop lifelong friendships with each other,” added Abadi, who stays in touch with parents long after orientation. “When they see how much Hope cares about them, they form a special bond with Hope, too.”

This is exactly what happened for parents Wilmer Miralda and Ivonne Nasser of Honduras, who attended IFO activities when they dropped off their son Jean Luc Miralda ’17 at Hope. The parents were so enthusiastic about their welcome that they invited welcome orientation organizer Jim VanHeest to Honduras. He enthusiastically responded with a visit in 2019.

While there, Miralda and Nasser, along with other former orientation families, hosted the first ever Hope College regional event in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. The families invited prospective students to the event so that they could learn more about Hope from VanHeest and others connected to the college.

“The parents gave testimony about Hope, sharing with emotion how much it meant for them to experience family orientation,” VanHeest said. “They conveyed a strong sense of comfort in sending their students to our campus.”

This gathering resulted in additional Honduran students enrolling at Hope College. In fact, the relationship was so fruitful that the families invited VanHeest back the following year. This time they had many prospective students ready and waiting to hear about Hope College. They also arranged for VanHeest to tour local high schools and meet with guidance counselors.

Eight students from Honduras were enrolled at Hope College during the 2023-24 academic year with another five expected to arrive as freshman on campus in fall 2024. Honduras now sends more international students to Hope than any other country.

“You never know what kind of relationships will develop because of orientation,” VanHeest said. “It’s exciting to see where these relationships lead.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *