At the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year, the AU community will be welcoming 30 students from China to our campus. AU has always been a place that prides itself on its diversity, and according to President John Pistole, this addition to the student body will be beneficial and enriching to both the incoming students and current AU students.
“Having additional international students on campus will give all of us the opportunity to better understand the world around us,” Pistole said. “Knowing and understanding others from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences helps us be better attuned to world events we may hear about, and perhaps spur an interest to work outside the U.S.”
“I want to ensure that all students, domestic and international, feel welcome at A.U., where they can experience the love of God through their interactions with everyone on campus,” he added. “By being intentional in seeking additional international students, current students can experience more of the real world and its immense diversity while still in college.”
Since most of these students will be traveling more than 7,000 miles to come to AU, making sure that they feel comfortable and welcome is of utmost importance. And according to Asian-American Student Association president Catherine Graham, integrating these students into the AU community will be no problem.
“AASA is called to emphasize the blending of the two cultures, Asian culture and American culture, Graham said. “We are as Asian as we are American, and because of that we will be a wonderful catalyst for Chinese exchange students to celebrate their culture, and discover American culture all at once. The Chinese students can experience American life, while celebrating their heritage and upbringing.”
Graham has big hopes for the AASA, and she is also adamant and passionate about the group’s God-centered mission.
“I hope the AASA makes an impact on campus by changing the culture at AU,” she said. “I hope some day we have events that are so well known that students look forward the annual big AASA events every year. God envisioned the church to be filled with people of every nation, language, tribe and cultural background.”
“I hope that at AU the AASA can help fulfill that fullness of the cultural church. Sometimes Sunday church can be the most segregated place and time of the week, but at AU we want to make sure we do not continue a culture of segregation and we don’t focus on our differences, but we integrate and focus on what makes us part of the global church,” Graham said. “That is my vision for the impact of the AASA in the future. I hope people aren’t afraid that they aren’t Asian to join or be part of culture, because God’s kingdom is full of every culture.”
Graham believes that members of AASA find strength in their diversity, and they want to “celebrate the heritage that they have been blessed with.”
“My vision for the AASA is that people will join because they seek to emulate the heavenly multitude of diversity that we will eternally live in, and they want to share Asian culture with AU,” she said. “The Kingdom of God is not ignorant of races, it does not try to make everyone one race, and it does not segregate races either, but it uplifts every culture equally to the throne of God, so we should as well.”
“We must stop seeking race with our eyes, but seek out the beauty that God has given us in our differences and praise God for the work of his hands,” Graham continued. “He has made culture and diversity, and has called it his own.”
The establishment of AASA, as well as the agreement to bring new international students to AU, comes on the tail of last year’s establishment of the Black Student Association and this year’s establishment of the Latino-Hispanic Student Association.