A quick search of students’ last names reveals that “Kim” — a common Korean surname — is now the most common last name at Calvin, topping popular Dutch last names such as DeVries and DeYoung, a big shift considering Calvin’s Dutch heritage.
Last year, a report by the Institute of International Education ranked Calvin College in the top 10 for number of international students in the state of Michigan, outdoing neighboring Grand Valley State University.
As of fall 2013, Calvin has more than 500 international students, roughly 13 percent of the student body.
This year Calvin enrolled 120 new international students, most of them Koreans who have grown up in different parts of the world.
Students and faculty have definitely noticed the rise in international students.
“When I first started here, I was usually the only international student in my classes. Now there are at least two or three other international students.” said Esther Hui, a senior from Hong Kong.
“It is nice to see the diversity of the United States reflected in the community of Calvin,” said Hesedel Barger, an adult learner from Oregon.
Nunana Nyomi, associate director of international admissions, said the rise in international student enrollment has benefited Calvin’s community.
“The international students having crossed cultures to come to school here tend to be active leaders who work hard to stand out from their peers,” Nyomi said. He also noted that the past two student body presidents were international students.
Nyomi made reference to Calvin’s mission as a school.
“Here at Calvin, we want to reflect God’s kingdom by celebrating diversity and welcoming people from all over the world,” Nyomi explained. “We want to create conversations.”
Nyomi, a 2008 Calvin alumnus, refers to himself as a “third culture kid” and said that he has seen a lot of positive change since he was a student at Calvin.
“Walking around the pathway and seeing people from different backgrounds is refreshing,” he commented.
Barger said that the diversity of Calvin opens students to a picture of the diversity of the world and of God’s kingdom.
“The growing diversity on campus is great preparation for life outside of Calvin and a mirror of God’s kingdom,” Barger said.