HBU Holds Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to Celebrate Establishment of Spahr-Tan Center for International Education

A group of Houston Baptist University (HBU) administrators, faculty and staff joined philanthropist Esther Wong and family members on Friday, Nov. 12 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the establishment of the Spahr-Tan Center for International Education on the HBU campus.

Wong chose to establish the Center at HBU to honor the legacy of her mother, Julia Tan, who was a pioneering Christian educator in China. Her mother joined forces with a missionary couple, Rev. and Mrs. Edwin G. Spahr, to support the cause of Christ with the establishment of Grace Christian High School and Grace Christian Ministries in the Philippines.

HBU President Dr. Robert Sloan called it a privilege to have the Spahr-Tan Center for International Education on the HBU campus as a marker of the international influence for the Gospel and expressed appreciation to Wong for inspiring the University and for the impact she has had in sharing her faith with others.

“Esther the privilege all of us have of knowing you is the privilege of having our hearts open and seeing the world more broadly and uniquely,” said Dr. Sloan.

The previous night, Wong was presented with the 2021 Spirit of Excellence Award, one of the University’s highest honors, for her efforts in carrying on her mother’s legacy with the establishment of the Center and her philanthropy and support of numerous Christian causes through the years.

The purpose of the Spahr-Tan Center for International Education is to create and promote global initiatives, including international programs, study abroad opportunities, cultural exchanges and scholarships with a primary focus on Southeast Asia (China and the Philippines). The Center will be led by HBU Assistant Provost Eduardo Borges, Co-Director of HBU’s Student Foundation, who also oversees and administers several Presidential Scholarship programs.

During a program following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Borges commended Wong for her work for the cause of Christ. “Thank you for your caring heart, for your devotion to the Lord, for wanting to see our students succeed, and for creating life-changing opportunities for them, and for the wonderful legacy that you are building here at Houston Baptist University,” said Borges.

For the last four years, the pair have worked together to accomplish a number of initiatives, including taking two groups of HBU students to Fujian, Province of China, where they carried out a cultural exchange English camp in 2018 and 2019, traveling to Hong Kong to explore possible collaborations with Hong Kong Baptist University and also visiting Grace Christian College in Manila in the Philippines, the place where Wong’s mother joined forces with The Spahr Family and dared to dream the impossible.