Increased global engagement a campus priority

Hesston College Cultures Fair 2018

Caption: Laura Yeboah-Appiah ’20 (Kumasi, Ghana) talks to Dylan Slabach Brubaker ’19 about her home country at the Cultures Fair in October. Photo by Jaden Hostetter ’19.

Just days before the official kick-off of the 2018-19 year, Hesston College unveiled a new campus feature. The Global Pathway – lightpole banners based on the flags of the countries and U.S. territories that make up this year’s student body – line the campus’ center walkway and emphasize a collective mind toward global engagement.

A global focus is nothing new for Hesston, but the arrival of President Joseph A. Manickam ’87 in 2017, elevated the campus community’s global thought and action processes to the next level by building on the foundation already in place.

“Being globally engaged is unquestionably what it means to be faithful followers of Jesus, and that’s what we are at Hesston College,” said Dr. Manickam. “We can’t sit unto ourselves, in our own bubble. Hesston College has something to offer the world, and we are being beckoned to engage widely. It’s the missional mandate of following Jesus.”

New positions, job descriptions and initiatives with a global focus are structured to provide answers to the “What does the world need from Hesston College?” question President Manickam introduced during his first year in office.

“Many of our job shifts are to ensure we have a coordinated initiative to move all parts of campus in the same direction,” said Manickam. “It helps us better analyze the gaps in what we’re doing and shift to fill those gaps.”

New appointments include:

  • John Murray ’81, who began as Director of International Admissions in 2017, moved into an expanded role of Dean of Global Engagement. He works intentionally across all aspects of the student experience to ensure student success.
  • André Swartley ’99, director of the English as a Second Language program since 2014, took on a new position to coordinate transcultural experiences.
  • Mackenzie Miller ’18, is participating in a global experience pilot program, spending the 2018-19 year in China through a partnership with Mennonite Partners in China in which she is studying Mandarin at Nanjing Normal University, serving with a local organization and being completely immersed in a new culture.
  • Following a feasibility study, the college decided to launch an Intensive English Language Program for fall 2019. Program director Chandra Johnson is developing the program to provide additional English language training to incoming international students and those attending other schools, and serve as a resource for immigrants in the region to receive English language assistance.

While these new initiatives are still being developed, students have been able to connect globally in more tangible ways this semester, including celebrations of International Day of Peace in September and the annual Cultures Fair in October.

It may seem that Hesston College is blazing into new territory, but Manickam notes that these initiatives are the result of work that has been in process at the college for decades.
“The reason we are able to implement these initiatives so quickly is because the community was primed for them already,” Manickam said. “This kind of global engagement is at the core of who Hesston has been all along.”

Mackenzie Miller ’18 at Nanjing Normal University in China.
Mackenzie Miller ’18 at Nanjing Normal University in China.