I’m a complainer. I like to complain.
Befitting my grumbling personality, I joined a large portion of the student body last year in protesting the national anthem. This year, when I found out that Aurora, Avon and Hymnal houses were going to close next year, violations increased, tuition raised, and small group houses announced, I united with my fellow students and complained some more. Although I do enjoy whining about certain aspects of Goshen College, I’ve got to affirm its most recent decision regarding international education requirements and Study-Service Term (S.S.T.).
Incoming first-years are now required to participate in either a traditional S.S.T. or the Latino Studies S.S.T. I think this is a great decision. Previously, students who didn’t want to participate in a traditional S.S.T. were able to register for S.S.T. alternative courses taught on campus. I have no faith that these courses could be a substitute for total immersion into another country and language for three months.
I can only think of two motives for why students would choose these alternative courses instead of a traditional S.S.T., the first being a reasonable medical, financial, or scheduling problem. Students in those situations should be given some leeway by the administration. If they absolutely can’t go overseas, the college shouldn’t force them too. That being said, students ought to try their hardest to go on S.S.T.
The second reason that I can think of for why students wouldn’t go on a traditional S.S.T. would be that they simply don’t want to. This might mean they are afraid of being in another country, afraid of people from another country or just don’t want to experience another culture. These seem more like excuses than reasons. I believe that humans are meant to explore new things; this includes learning, understanding and tolerating people of other cultures, languages, races, faiths and nationalities.
If a student doesn’t value multiple beliefs, ethnicities and cultures, they probably should have thought more carefully before attending Goshen College. Goshen is an institution proud of its international relationships; an institution that also requires its students to participate in said relationships.
I also believe that students coming to Goshen College should be excited about the opportunity that S.S.T. provides. Global citizenship is one of the college’s core values. I sometimes get the feeling that students come to Goshen College and don’t know or believe in the five core values. I really hope that this isn’t true, but if so, I hope that those not going on a traditional S.S.T. realize what they’re missing and change their minds while they still can.
I’m proud of Goshen College for sticking to at least one of their core values by making S.S.T. a requirement for all students. Hopefully this decision will result in a lot of happy host families and even happier students.