By Hugo Kinebuchi
In the midst of miles on miles of cornfields lies a small colorful bubble. Hesston College is a small taste of an abundance of different cultures and backgrounds within a minimal 50-acre campus. Here we see people all around the world including Japan, Australia, and Albania just to name a few. So how did this ethnic diversity come to be in rural Kansas? As a college affiliated with Mennonites, Hesston College has always had the mission of spreading love throughout all of the different cultures in order to create bonds that link the opposing poles of our vast world. If you were to look up the values on the Hesston College website, you would find that under culture it states: “Celebrate differences in backgrounds and cultures and make every effort to learn from each other.” The school makes sure to emphasize this part of their values by constantly representing every country through daily meals, songs, and other activities throughout the year.
So how exactly has this diversity affected people’s lives? Coming from personal experience, having all these cultures in such a concentrated place has a taught me a couple things. The first thing is that this world is a lot larger than I realized. Being raised in Tokyo, Japan and San Diego, California, I always believed that my perspective on life was pretty broad. I thought that crossing the Pacific Ocean half way through my life meant that my mental library was full of different stories from lives across the world. Little did I know that the experience I had was only a splash from the ocean of cultures that is world has to offer. Hesston College is not necessarily that entire ocean in a small town; however, it definitely opens eyes to the fact that there is a lot more out there. Here, I talked to people from places such as Ethiopia and Thailand for the first time and their small idiosyncrasies opened my eyes to how colorful this world actually is.
Another thing I noticed is that people are people. This seems like an obvious statement, but I never noticed that despite culture or age or gender, everyone goes through trials and tribulations. Everyone has a sense of joy in one form or another. Everyone cries and laughs. Everyone breathes the same air under the same sun. Despite being raised on the opposite ends of the earth, people can come together and find a way to connect. Of course there are “stereotypical” ways people may act in different cultures, but in the end their actions are driven from emotions that can be found everywhere else.
The ethnic diversity within Hesston College is one of the most beautiful aspects of the school. Although the school may be a very academic atmosphere, the information learned in the classroom is only a piece of the vast knowledge that can be gained at the school. Hesston College allows people to find a way to connect through each other’s differences. This also teaches people to realize that there is a giant world out there to explore while meeting hundreds of new people and hearing their stories.