You might be surprised to learn that Bellingham Alive has been read in places like Hong Kong and Vietnam. Despite catering to those who live in the North Sound, our humble local magazine has found an international audience thanks to Whatcom Community College (WCC).  

Having worked at WCC for more than 18 years, Kelly Kester, the director of the college’s international program, has brought copies of Bellingham Alive to trade shows and recruiters as a way to showcase the Bellingham community to prospective students and parents.  

“The majority of our work is bringing students from around the world to come to study,” Kester says.  

At its peak, the program has hosted 350 students in a year, with students coming from 30 different countries, Kelly says. The pages of Bellingham Alive offered these students an early glimpse into the Bellingham community and what makes life in our area unique.  

“That’s the thing that differentiates us from so many colleges, is community,” Kester says. “Bellingham is great, but to capture that for an audience abroad is pretty hard to do, so [Bellingham Alive] really helps out with that.” 

Despite COVID-19, enrollment actually went up for the summer quarter at WCC. “We’ve had the biggest summer intake we’ve ever had,” Kester says.  

Because students can take classes remotely, roughly half went home before restrictions were put in place. Regardless of how things are now, Kester admits that using Bellingham Alive has been an asset to the international program.  

“Bellingham Alive is handy because it sort of wets your appetite for students and parents to kinda get an idea of what the community is like before they come here,” Kester says.  

For more like this, check out our Life section here.