Grounded in community. Globally engaged. These are words that President Joe Manickam likes to challenge students to live by.
On September 23, 2017, Manickam was officially inaugurated and welcomed into the Hesston community. While we were welcoming a new president, we were also welcoming a new vision for Hesston: to become an international college.
But what is an international college, and what does it look like?
International Admissions Director John Murray describes it this way:.
“It’s not changing the way we are. It’s more expanding who we are.”
Murray described an analogy that he heard from Dr. Drew G.I. Hart of Messiah College, during the church service at Hesston Mennonite on February 25.
International students are often treated as guests on campus. While that sounds pleasant enough, Hart described why it’s not nearly good enough. Murray paraphrased Dr. Hart:
“When we have guests into our home, we often say ‘make yourself at home,’ he said. “That means take your shoes off, make yourself comfortable, etc. What we don’t mean is that they are welcome to rearrange the furniture or take our pictures down and put theirs up.”
One of the main goals with developing Hesston College into an international school is making international students not just guests on campus, but being a part of an interconnected community that we have created amongst all of us.
There are other goals that go along with this vision such as seeing that interterm is brought back, the addition of globally-focused academic programs on campus, shifting towards a more international worldview, and offering more diverse meals in the cafeteria.
President Manickam is hoping to start implementing some of these changes in the fall of 2019.
Throughout his lifetime, Manickam has traveled to about 50 different countries. While these travels crafted his vision, he said, it was the student body of Hesston College that inspired him.
“During my time here at Hesston College, I have been moved to tears by the student body several times. It is the students who define Hesston College. We have it here to start living with an international mindset, we just have to get it moving.”
English Professor Andrew Swartley, who works closely with the international students of Hesston, offers a piece of advice to students and staff on expanding their own worldviews,
“Use your existing hobbies to take you somewhere news. Learn a new language. If you are able to travel, do so, and then get lost in the new place.”
Manickam states that while these changes to Hesston are hoping to be implemented soon, it is a gradual process.
“Change is coming. It is a marathon that gets defined along the way, not a sprint.”