Three members of the St. Thomas community will be honored with a Global Citizenship Award on Saturday, April 30, at the 27th Annual International Dinner. Communication and Journalism Department faculty member Xiaowen Guan, Ph.D.; Karen Lange, Ed.D., vice president of student affairs; and Raymond Nkwain Kindva, senior biochemistry major, were named joint recipients of the award earlier this month.
They were selected based on their commitment to intercultural awareness and understanding as demonstrated through their intercultural engagement on and off campus in clubs, committees, academic work, programming and other activities. Moreover, each recipient was selected based on how he or she exemplified a global St. Thomas citizen, someone whose actions intentionally and positively benefit the St. Thomas community and the on-campus climate.
Each year, International Programs at St. Thomas tries to choose one faculty, staff and student for the award. Learn more about Guan, Lange and Nkwain Kindva and why they were selected for the 2016 award below.
Xiaowen Guan, a native of China and longtime researcher of cross-cultural and intercultural communication, is involved in training and consulting with local businesses, academic professionals and international students on cultural awareness and communication skills. Guan was commended by Communication and Journalism Department colleague Dina Gavrilos, Ph.D., for being a "mentor, leader and model on campus, exemplifying what it means to show respect and inclusivity of other cultures and viewpoints." Gavrilos noted Guan's commitment to taking "every opportunity both inside and outside the classroom to contribute to the campus’ mission of respecting human differences, especially through the lens of global citizenship," including pairing students from her Intercultural Communication course with the ELS Language Center, ensuring that students practice face-to-face communication with someone from a different culture. Outside of the classroom, Guan has served on committees that seek to advance the global mission of the university, including the Global and Local Engagement Advisory Board, University Strategic Planning Task Force of Global Connections, International Student Scholarship Committee, University International Student Services Office Program Director Search Committee and International Education Center Global Scholar Certificate Committee. She currently is co-chair of the Eliminating Barriers for International Students Committee at St. Thomas.
Karen Lange, according to Lori Friedman, director of international students and scholars in the Division of Student Affairs, "has always been a champion for internationalizing St. Thomas and continues to be one in her more recent role as the vice president of student affairs" and a tireless advocate in upper administration for international students on campus. Friedman praised Lange's cultural humility and genuine interest in supporting St. Thomas as a domain of intercultural learning and global engagement. Lange's passion for bringing together international and domestic students to build connections is evident in her work as she continues to include international students and globalization as focal points in line with the strategic plan. She has united organizations across campus, including Residence Life, Campus Life, Student Diversity and Inclusion Services, and the Office of International Students and Scholars to work together to create programming. She also has supported such efforts as the OISS' Global Tommies excursion to focus on intercultural learning and development for international and domestic students and to build bridges between both populations. This past year, Lange offered her staff an opportunity to receive a Cultural Immersion Grant to either attend an international conference or participate in a staff exchange abroad to learn more about their field in a different culture and context and to better globalize the work that is done within the Division of Student Affairs.
Raymond Nkwain Kindva '16 is an immigrant, by way of Cameroon, to the United States and can relate to the international student experience. He has shared his own experience with the St. Thomas community at one of OISS' CultureLink Tea events. He also has been actively involved in international-student endeavors since his first day at St. Thomas. His first semester here, in February 2013, he became HANA's culture communications committee chair. From there, he took on numerous leadership and committee roles in cultural student organizations, including Globally Minded Student Association, African Nations Student Association and Undergraduate Student Government as its undergraduate international students' representative. He also was a member of the Black Empowered Student Alliance and the Hmong United Student Association. According to Friedman, as diversity chair in USG, he recommended changes to the finance committee, namely for more consistency to support cultural celebrations annually and more equity for cultural clubs and organizations. She also noted how in his four years at St. Thomas, Nkwain Kindva has seized many opportunities to participate in discussions with the administration – including the president, provost and Board of Trustees – to share the viewpoints of international students and students of color in order to make change on campus and make this a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all. "He has truly made his mark on campus and will be missed," Friedman wrote in her nomination form.