“I have yet to find another mode of communication that cuts across differences, boundaries and borders more than the arts,” said Hesston College President Joe Manickam. “The arts provide a common language that exists in every culture.”
And so, Manickam, along with internationally-acclaimed baritone and Hesston College staff member Tony Brown, hope to join the power of the arts with that of peacebuilding in an intergenerational journey to Thailand for Hesston May 14 to 31.
Manickam came to Hesston to start his new role as president during the summer of 2017 after having lived and worked in Thailand for several years, most recently as Director of the Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace and faculty member for peace studies at Payap University in Chiang Mai.
Brown has traveled across the globe for many years through the Peacing It Together Foundation, which is his creation and exists to serve the global community as a resource for peace and social justice, using music and the spoken word to bring people together across the divides of race, culture and religion.
The trip will enter communities off the beaten path and engage with stories of hope and transformation along the margins of society. A trans-cultural course, this trip is open to all college-level students and Hesston College alumni and friends. An emphasis is being placed on the gifts an intergenerational group can bring.
“Our hope is to take along other people who can be transformed on this trip the same way Tony and I are, adding to the messengers who return home with stories and transformation,” Manickam said.
Participants will travel to four distinct regions of Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Tak Province and Southern Thailand. Along the way, the group will meet with several leaders of faith communities from the Muslim, Buddhist, Christian and Sikh groups. A few days will also be spent at Payap University with the music department learning about traditional Thai music.
“The focus of this trip is really on the arts, both performing and visual,” Manickam said. “But you don’t have to be an artist to go on this trip. It is for people who would appreciate the arts.”
The trip will also make several sightseeing stops around Thailand and will end on the beaches, allowing for a time of debriefing and reflection.
Those interested in attending this trip should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-327-8233. The cost of the trip is $1,800 for students and $2,200 for other participants plus the cost of air fare. A $500 deposit is due to the Hesston College Business Office by Feb. 20.
“The arts are a very powerful tool for peacebuilding because that brings people from different places and different walks of life together to connect in a common language,” Manickam said. “None of us have to be fluent in it, but we can all participate if we are willing.”
by Mackenzie Miller