Student Perspective

HSU’s President and First Lady Host International Students at Home

by Benjamin Skye | April 28, 2010 | Student Perspective 0 Comments

April 23, Friday – Folks in West Texas are well known in the United States for their “Southern hospitality” – a characteristic that most of ELI 360’s international students’ have experienced firsthand in Abilene. This past Friday, the members of Hardin-Simmons University’s International Student Fellowship (ISF) were given the opportunity to taste just how pervasive this attitude of friendliness truly was on their very own campus when they were invited over to dinner by the new President of HSU, Dr. Lanny Hall.

Dr. Lanny Hall, the 13th and now 15th President of Hardin-Simmons University.

Dr. Lanny Hall, the 13th and now 15th President of Hardin-Simmons University.

Dr. Hall, serving his second tenure as the President of HSU was inaugurated, again, on November 23rd, 2009 – which also happens to be his 60th birthday – as the 15th President in HSU’s 118 year history. Prior to this, Dr. Hall served as the President of Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas from 2003 to 2009. He is a proud alumnus of HSU and received his doctoral degree in educational administration from University of Texas in Austin in 1985. Hall was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1979 to 1984 and served in key government leadership positions at the national level.

For many of the international students gathered outside the house of the HSU first family, there was a sense of eager anticipation mixed with awe as they awaited meeting the top administrator of their institution. After all, this was the first time in the International Student Fellowship’s brief history that members had been personally invited to the President’s home for dinner.

The international students, along with their advisor, Ms. Terry Minami, were greeted by the warm smiles of Dr. Lanny Hall and his wife Mrs. Carol Hall upon entering the doorway of their home. After a quick tour of the Presidential House, members of ISF were treated to a home-cooked meal consisting of seasoned pork tenderloins, creamed corn casserole, green beans and Mrs. Hall’s famous poppy-seed chicken. The students were greatly impressed by the Halls’ hospitality, as Dr. Hall and his wife served them rolls and refilled their teas.

The ladies of ISF with the First Lady, Mrs. Carol Hall. From left: Janet Case, Sing Rou Lee, Caryn Wang, Grace Lee, Mrs. Carol Hall, Yen Ting Chew, Alexis Kuan, Stephanie Teoh and Amanda Stark. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Teoh.

The ladies of ISF with the First Lady, Mrs. Carol Hall. From left: Janet Case, Sing Rou Lee, Caryn Wang, Grace Lee, Mrs. Carol Hall, Yen Ting Chew, Alexis Kuan, Stephanie Teoh and Amanda Stark. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Teoh.

After dinner, the students were asked to introduce themselves, stating first their names, countries of origin and a favorite dish from their hometown. Being on the topic of food, Dr. Hall then took this opportunity to tell a story about his time as a representative of the state of Texas. On this particular occasion, Dr. Hall was traveling with eleven other U.S. state representatives to visit a cabinet minister in Japan. One evening, while he was at dinner with the cabinet minister, Dr. Hall was sitting at the hibachi when raw fish was served before him. Knowing that the Japanese had a reputation for eating their fish raw, Dr. Hall thought it would be polite to consume what was set before him without much question. Dr. Hall recalls, “I was dowsing the fish with sauce since I did not care too much for raw fish when the minister’s wife, who was seated next to me turned to me halfway through dinner and said, ‘You know, I like to cook my fish before I eat it.’” This story was greeted with laughter by the members of the ISF, to which Mrs. Hall added, “We all sometimes find ourselves in a different culture, and we really don’t know what to do except to try our best to adapt just as Dr. Hall was trying his best in this story.”

Dr. Hall’s story, coupled with his wife’s remarks must have subconsciously endeared the international students to the couple, since it was not difficult for them to relate to his experience in Japan. This “breaking of ice” was evident throughout the rest of the evening as the students interacted and dialogued freely with the first family, including Dr. Hall’s daughter Lana, son-in-law Jonathan McCutchen, and their two granddaughters Lilly and Ada.

"Hello Mr. President, you can address me as Mr. President." The President of HSU Dr. Lanny Hall with the President of ISF, Roshan Guharajan joined by Mrs. Hall. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Teoh.

"Hello Mr. President, you can address me as Mr. President." The President of HSU Dr. Lanny Hall with the President of ISF, Roshan Guharajan joined by Mrs. Hall. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Teoh.

In addition to celebrating the ISF President, Roshan Guhurajan’s 22nd birthday, the Halls also took time to listen to the students share the challenges they faced as a result of living in a foreign culture. Overall, it was a great experience for the international students whose importance to the HSU mission was both acknowledged and affirmed by the President himself.

This event serves to highlight but one of the many advantages of attending an ELI 360 partner university. ELI 360 would like to take this opportunity to emphasize once again that student-friendly environments are a hallmark of these universities’ campuses. The administrators and educators are personally invested in the lives of these students and are sincere about developing the potential in them – a fact that the international students of Hardin-Simmons can now undoubtedly testify to.

The International Students in a group picture with Dr. and Mrs. Hall. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Teoh.

The International Students in a group picture with Dr. and Mrs. Hall. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Teoh.

* ELI 360 would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Lanny Hall and Mrs. Carol Hall on behalf of the International Student Fellowship of Hardin-Simmons University for their hospitality and generosity. Your warmth and kindness are definitely reflective of the values of the Hardin-Simmons family. We continue to offer you our prayers and support as you lead this fine institution. God Bless!

Add a Comment