At convocation on Monday, four international students shared insights about their cross-cultural experiences at Goshen College and challenged the student body to embrace diversity on campus.One of those students, Jan Zawadzki, a senior business major from Germany, discussed a concept he called the Menno-Wall, an invisible wall that divides Mennonite students from non-Mennonite students. To illustrate his point, Zawadzki asked students in the audience to consider where they were sitting. Sure enough, the chapel was split into two (mostly) dichotomous groups: white Mennonite students on the north end of chapel and non-white and international students on the south end.
As much as I’d like to believe that Zawadzki is wrong about the Menno-Wall, it’s hard to argue with his reasoning. My housemates and I are prime examples: five white Mennonite girls who have a few international friends but generally keep to ourselves. Like other GC students, my friends and I value the opportunity to attend school with a relatively high percentage of international students. But valuing diversity is not the same as embracing diversity, and I am just as guilty as anyone of sticking to my own social group.
A few weeks ago, I learned that 29 of Goshen’s 168 first-years are international students, about 17 percent of the first-year class. That’s more than double the number of senior international students at GC. As more international students come to Goshen, it becomes increasingly important that we as a campus reach out to them and make them feel welcome here. And of course, The Record should also try to reflect the increasingly diverse student body in its coverage.
We at The Record are still figuring out how to reach a balance of news and diversity coverage at Goshen College. While The Record is not obligated to publish anything about international students or students of color, we choose to feature minority students at GC on a regular or semi-regular basis because we believe it is valuable to highlight different people’s voices and experiences. We may not be able to run an international spotlight every week, but we are trying to be more conscious of the multicultural content in our paper.
And let’s not forget that diversity comes in many forms: gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexual orientation and political affiliation, to name just a few. We all have unique experiences to share, not just international students.
If you or someone you know feels under-represented in The Record, we invite you to share your thoughts and start a conversation. In the words of Zawadzki, we can all work to tear down this wall.