College explores international partnerships through workshops in Indonesia

Hesston College faculty member Heidi Hochstetler (fourth from left) poses with faculty member at Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana in Salatiga, Central Java

Hesston College took a step toward expanding its international connections by leading workshops at three Indonesian universities this past summer.

The workshops, led by Heidi Hochstetler, Hesston College education and English for Speakers of Other Languages professor, were arranged with help from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) staff in Indonesia and the Institute for Indonesian Partnerships.

“The vision was to connect with universities in a different part of the world to find ways that we can help each other through academic partnerships,” says Hochstetler.

Through a year of planning, Hesston College organizers and their connections in Indonesia identified three universities that seemed to have the most interesting connections for Hesston to explore. Hochstetler’s week-long workshops at each of the universities focused on English language instruction, education instruction or a combination of the two areas that the institutions identified as providing the most benefit for their faculty and students. The universities Hochstetler visited were Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana in Salatiga, Central Java; Universitas Kristen Wira Wacana Sumba in Waingapu, Sumba; and Universitas Nusa Cendana in Kupang, Timor.

Hochstetler’s workshops were tailored specifically to the needs the university expressed. At the first university in Central Java, she worked with faculty across multiple disciplines to feel more prepared and confident to teach in English.

“They are already experts in their disciplines, and they primarily teach in Indonesian, but the university has future plans to offer more subjects and even complete degree programs in English,” Hochstetler says. “This workshop was to build the faculty’s confidence and abilities to teach their discipline in English.”

At the second workshop on the island of Sumba, the university was interested in having support for faculty to write and publish in English. The final workshop on the island of Timor was presented to junior- and senior-level university students who are studying to teach English as a profession.

All of the workshops included interactive and collaborative work so attendees could practice with and learn from one another as well as from the instruction presented.

“In the U.S., we know that our students represent many cultural backgrounds, but it’s exponentially larger in Indonesia because growing up on a different island can mean speaking a different language,” Hochstetler says. “The Indonesian universities understand how multicultural their student body is, so it was interesting to see how they navigate providing the necessary support for that.”

Hesston College has long placed importance on intercultural engagement as a vital part of the student and human experience. Since the first international students arrived at Hesston in the mid-1940s the college has built a vibrant international student program. In 2022, international students from 21 countries made up 18 percent of total student enrollment.

Hochstetler was encouraged by the summer workshops, and looks forward to the engagement that could develop between Hesston College and its Indonesian counterparts.

“For Hesston College, this trip felt like a good first step in forming mutually beneficial partnerships between our institutions,” adds Hochstetler. “I think there are some really good options, like having students work on projects together or providing study abroad opportunities.”