Helping International Students Partake in the Mission of Maranatha

Published : Friday, February 9, 2018 | 12:52 PM

L-R: Penny Cheng, Melissa Wunderly, and Dan Bodwell.

Come meet the International Student Program Department that helps provide opportunities for greater exposure to the world community and specific cultural, economic, and church practices throughout the world to enhance the high school experience of Maranatha students.

In this series, MHS have been introducing each of its hardworking and dedicated faculty and staff departments. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the talented people God has brought to the school, and to give readers a little insight into each department, its members, and the calling the Lord has placed on their lives. We hope these features give you an even greater appreciation for our staff and the ways they enrich our students’ lives and help make Maranatha High School a Christ-centered and welcoming community.

The International Student Program Department

Melissa Wunderly (International Student Program Director)
Melissa is currently in her sixth year working at Maranatha, and there are so many things she enjoys about working at Maranatha, one of them, of course, is her fabulous team. Melissa says, “Dan and Penny are incredibly talented, godly, and devoted. Our hearts are united in our desire to provide the best possible experience and opportunity for our international students. They are also quick to pray, ready to jump in and work on projects, and also capable of carrying a lot of responsibility. I’m so thankful for this team!”

The International Student Program Department expands the influence of Maranatha beyond the San Gabriel Valley, and equips students from many countries as leaders in the cultures and communities worldwide. “Our department works to recruit and select international students, prepare them for immersion, and walk them through the adjustments of culture and educational systems. We also care for those students in their homestay experiences, and encourage the inclusion of their world perspectives through classroom sharing and participation, through cultural events on campus, and through their involvement in the co-curriculars and extracurriculars offered at Maranatha.”

Melissa finds that Maranatha’s focus on faith, excellence, and community really sets the school apart from everyone else, and when watching the students walk through campus, going from class to class, she can see just how happy the students are and how much the faculty are engaged.

Quirky Fact: “I have ‘survived’ jungle training camp in the Chiapas. I also love to sing when no one is listening, and I would always rather explore nature than shop or go out to dinner.”

Dan Bodwell (International Student Program Associate Director)
Dan is in his fourth year working at Maranatha as the Associate Director of the International Student Program, and he appreciates and enjoys that his colleagues are full of life and share a great passion for the students. Dan says, “The students, the chance to host our international families, and the opportunity to serve is what I love the most about working, not only at Maranatha, but also for the International Student Program. My hope is that our students learn more about the Christian faith as a part of our program and that we would continue to see international students experience all that we, as a school, have to offer.”

Quirky Fact: “I’m a big fan of Studio Ghibli, a Japanese anime film studio, that has produced such movies as Totoro, Ponyo, and The Wind Rises.”

Penny Cheng (International Student Program Coordinator/Admissions)
Penny is the newest member of the International Student Program Department, having only recently started at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. Penny says, “It is a true blessing to have the opportunity to work for Maranatha and in the International Student Program Department. It is a privilege to serve the students and the community. Melissa and Dan are very supportive of me. They not only provide me room to learn to grow, but they also provide me with guidance and support. I also enjoy our prayer time together.”

Believing that it was God’s amazing grace and abundant love that placed her here at Maranatha, one of the many aspects Penny enjoys about working in her department is being able to interact with so many international students who have traveled thousands of miles away from their homes. “My goal is to not only support our incredible team, but to also be able to help our students out with all the challenges they have studying abroad. I immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong when I was in high school, and I went through similar challenges they might be facing. I pray that every student will get to know Jesus and experience the love of God.”

Quirky Fact:“I do not like milk. My mom told me that I stopped drinking any kind of milk when I was three.”


Maranatha High School, 169 S. St. John Avenue, Pasadena, (626) 817-4000 or visit








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