Four campus offices merge to create the new Intercultural Office

By Nikki Rita
News Editor

Messiah College has been constructing new buildings and renovating old ones, and to continue with this trend of change, the various cultural offices have merged into one. The Intercultural Office has combined the multicultural, international and study abroad aspects of the college.

There are four programs that make up the Intercultural office: education abroad, international programs, international student programs and multicultural programs.

The Intercultural Office does not have anything specific planned yet. The groups that have, until now, been so separated are working on getting to know each other.

Tatiana Diaz, director of the Multicultural Program explained: “We’re taking some time to get to know the different areas a bit more so that we can all be much more informed of what we all do.”

However, they have hopeful expectations about what the office can become. With the opportunity to collaborate, they are aiming for a reconciliation and communication amongst the programs.

Diaz said, “I’m feeling very excited about having a new office that includes so many different programs. I’m very excited about the possibilities of making our jobs and our work better and more influential with more students. And I think we’re starting to see how all of that will happen. It’s definitely going to take some time to branch out and be all it can be.”

Students themselves had a significant say in the process of the merge. Faith Minnich, Director of International Programs said, “They had input in the process to begin with. Kris Hansen-Kieffer, Dean of Students, met with a number of students throughout the process to get their voice and input which is clearly essential. And they remain at our heart.”

The Intercultural Office hopes to provide assistance and knowledge for the students of Messiah College in discovering the world around them. They aim to encourage students to bring back their experiences and perspectives from studying abroad and provide ways for those students to interact and connect with others different from themselves.

The office offers a safe space for students coming from abroad that they can call their own. Traveling abroad is one of the best opportunities for students to gain “intercultural competencies,” as Minnich puts it, and the Intercultural Office is geared toward making that happen.

    “We’re hopeful that students will come to know of the different programs. Study abroad is one of those pieces that is very exciting for students. Hopefully some of the study abroad students can connect with some of the multicultural student organizations that we have on campus. Then, maybe some multicultural and international students will have an easier communication about how they can study abroad,” said Diaz regarding information being more readily available.


Spreading greater local and global awareness for students is on the agenda as well. Minnich explained: “They recognize it as integral in being a well-adjusted global citizen … It’s making those local global connections. I call it ‘glocal.’ Which I love ‘cause I think it’s totally true. We can be so focused on the kind of sexiness of traveling abroad that we lose our reality here and don’t recognize the opportunities we have right at our doorstep. And how as Christians we’re really called to both the local and the global.”

Messiah College senior and president of the Asian Student Association, Chris Samaniego, shared his take on the changes: “I’m personally really excited about it, though I can see why there were some hesitations when this idea was first introduced to us. We’ve always sort of had a bit of a small family, and we’ve always had sort of our small niche: we love everybody and we know everybody. Expanding that to over double our size is going to be an interesting thing.”
“I am excited that now we have an outlet for students who can be encouraged to learn about our food, our culture and our events,” said Samaniego.

Students now have a place where they can meet others with different cultural perspectives and work towards experiencing other cultures for themselves.

The Intercultural Office outlines its mission in its vision statement: “By 2014, the Intercultural Office at Messiah College will be valued for its commitment to serving the campus community through its programs and services by highlighting the ongoing need for meaningful intercultural dialogue and connectedness.”

The future is vast for the Intercultural Office. Minnich doesn’t want to put any concrete image on it: “What exactly is that going to look like? Part of the exciting piece of it to me is to not come into it with a really set ‘oh it’s going to look like this.’ I mean, we have ideas, and hopes and dreams but we’re also open to be surprised.”

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