Todd Anderson pic In considering the years I spent at Biola University, it is without doubt that many of my most cherished memories include time spent in participation with the Department of Multi-Ethnic Programs.  Through my involvement with a variety of programs (Cultural Encounters, retreats, etc.), my views of the world and how I relate to it have been vastly widened.  In transitioning from the life of a student to the responsibilities of career and family, I can truly say that my time with these programs has prepared me to successfully interact and work with people from a diversity of backgrounds. Through these programs, God has given me a new understanding of responsibility, attitude and respect toward others.

Todd Anderson
Associate Pastor, Calvary Chapel Christian Center of Brea

As a first generation college student from a Mexican family, I was not prepared for what awaited me at Biola University: feelings of marginalization.  My first year I was one of three Latino students living on a floor with twenty-seven other white students.  My floor was probably fairly diverse compared to the others across campus.  I was amazed that so many white students could be in one place, for I came from a neighborhood consisting of 99% Latinos, so Biola was very strange to me. 

I attempted to “fit in” to the dominant culture by assimilating.  That is to say, I made every effort to try and become “white.”  These efforts were met with much frustration and feelings of exclusion, for I could not possibly become “white,” because that is not who I was at the core.  I was a Mexican American, but was scared of being proud of that fact. joel_perez

That is where the Office of Multi Ethnic Programs comes in, and specifically Glen Kinoshita.  It was he who assisted me in my journey through ethnic identity development, in which I was happy to see that my attempt to assimilate was a natural part of my development as a Mexican American.  As I progressed through various stages Glen and the services provided by the department assisted me in my development as an individual as well as a student leader and led to my becoming a Student Affairs professional.  Without this program many alumni, including myself, would not be the people that we are today.

Dr. Joel Perez
Dean of Transitions and Inclusion, George Fox University
Recipient of the 2000 Biola Young Alumni Award

Erika Gieschen The majority of my school years were spent in Okinawa, Japan as an Missionary Kid (MK).  Although I went to an international school that was American-accredited, it was a very multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment.  Most of the students who were not full Asian were, like me, half-Caucasian and half-Asian.  Thus, it was a huge culture shock for me to come to the United States and start college at Biola.

Even though I had American citizenship, and an American accent, I had no context for what that really meant.  I remember the first chapel service I attended was a shock: I’d never before seen so much blonde hair in one place.   After my sophomore year, I was feeling the strain, and opted for a semester abroad in the U.K. 

When I returned, I was torn.  While I wanted to stay at Biola, I also felt that I had no place there.  I didn’t feel I belonged, nor did I feel that I was making any difference.  I remember praying that God would show me where He wanted me, and how I could grow in this situation.  I believe that prayer was answered through Glen Kinoshita and the Department of Multi-Ethnic programs. 

I was invited to join a retreat for members of various ethnic clubs, which at the time, Glen was almost single-handedly advising.  Through that retreat – both the fellowship with the students it brought together, and Glen’s practical, thoughtful, and godly teaching – I for the first time was able to make headway in understanding my cultural, ethnic, and spiritual identity.  What began during that retreat turned into the most fruitful years of my time at Biola.  Because of Glen’s commitment to student enrichment and the department’s resources, I learned invaluable leadership skills and was encouraged to use them.  In addition to leading and developing workshops for fellow students, I also ended up serving on the Associated Students Council, various faculty advisory boards, and being an active voice for change.  When I graduated, I was able to look back on my years at Biola and know that I had been empowered to make a lasting difference there, rather than just cruising to a degree for myself. 

It is no small thing to be a teen entering college life, but it is especially daunting as a student of color, whether American or international.  The knowledge that I gained, the spiritual growth I experienced, and the character I developed during my college years would not have been possible without Glen and the Department of Multi-Ethnic programs.

Erika Gieschen
Recipient of the 2005 Christians in Culture Alumni Award

Biola University
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