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Chinese studies scholarship named for late WVU alumnus marks its fifth year

Christopher Belfoure Christopher Belfoure knew what he wanted in life and credited that to the guidance of his Chinese teachers at WVU. A dedicated Mountaineer, he knew that his education would take him around the world through international business.

“I want to be a small part of the bridge linking two large countries,” Chris said in a 2010 interview. “I hope I can diminish the misunderstandings between them.”

In 2011, just a year after he received his diploma, the Essex, Connecticut native lost his life unexpectedly in an ATV accident. His mother, Robin Chapin, started a scholarship fund to help WVU students travel to China, an experience that changed her late son’s life.

“Christopher was so appreciative of all the help given to him while at WVU studying Chinese,” Chapin said. “He loved the language and the Chinese people. Christopher would have wanted other students to have the opportunity to travel to Taiwan and China to study.”

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Christopher Belfoure Chinese Studies Travel Abroad Fund, which has provided four WVU students the opportunity to travel abroad since its creation. Tyler Anderson, the first recipient of the scholarship in 2014 studied at Ocean University of China, Qingdao. Morgan Stemler, an international studies major, and Noah McDill, a political science major received the award this year and will study abroad during the Spring 2017 semester.

Marisa Terwilliger, the second recipient of the scholarship, is currently studying in Qingdao, China, and says the scholarship has given her an opportunity that would have been more difficult otherwise.

“I knew I wanted to study abroad, but receiving the Christopher Belfoure Chinese Studies Travel Abroad Fund really solidified my resolve to spend a semester here in China. While I know I could have made it work, somehow, this scholarship made it easier on both me and my family,” Terwilliger said

“Being in China these past months has helped my Chinese exponentially, I can now have complete conversations and friendships that only take place in Chinese. This also has prompted my mother to leave America for the first time in her life to come and see me in China. She arrives tomorrow and I'm sure she will love Qingdao as much as I love it.”

Hannah Lin, J. Vance and Florence Highland Johnson Associate Professor and coordinator of the Chinese Studies Program, remembers Belfoure as a dedicated student who constantly strove to improve himself. She recalls that many of his classmates and friends relied on both his encouragement and support.

“The study abroad experience helped Chris realize his dreams,” Lin said. “Thanks to his family, more students at WVU have the opportunities to travel to China and Taiwan to experience the language and culture that he fell so much in love with. His dream and his mother’s love for him will shine on many of our students and enrich their lives in the future.”

Through the fund, Chapin said she is able to honor her son’s love for the Chinese language and culture, and hold on to the loving bond they shared.

“Chris was the best son a mother could have,” she said. “He recognized and appreciated the dedication of a mother to her son. We became best friends with such a close connection. He was always concerned for my well-being as well as his sister’s. He achieved so much during his short time here. I was so proud of everything he accomplished and the dreams and aspirations he had.”

If you, or someone you know, would like to donate to the Christopher Belfoure Chinese Studies Travel Abroad Fund (2W585) please send your personal check, payable to the WVU Foundation, Inc., to: WVU Foundation Inc., PO Box 1650, Morgantown WV 26506. To make online gifts visit: https://www.mountaineerconnection.com/SSLPage.aspx?pid=229.

Select the "Designation" drop down arrow and click on "Other" to enter Belfoure 2W585. If you have any questions about making a gift please contact Marnie Dacko, associate director of development, at marnie.dacko@mail.wvu.edu or at 304-293-4611.

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