Monday, February 15, 2010

PIU Challenges for 2010 #3 - Diversity

One of the most wonderful things about the Christian gospel is that it takes people who are far away from each other in culture, language and even geography and makes them no longer strangers and aliens... but instead they become fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (from Ephesians 2.17, 19). Whenever the Spirit is really working we see people from very different backgrounds and with different approaches to life learning to love each other and to work together to build God's Kingdom. Our goal is that life at Pacific Islands University would reflect this kind of unity in diversity. We believe God placed us in a unique place to make that happen because Guam is one of the most diverse places in the world.  

So our third challenge is that PIU would be at least as diverse as the island of Guam....

One area in which we need to increase our diversity is our student body. Originally PIU (in the MIBS and PIBC days) was founded to train leaders for the Micronesian churches founded by Liebenzell Mission in Chuuk, Palau and Yap. Thus, last semester, though we have students from more than 10 countries and four continents, about 70% of our students are from these three island groups. Now we don't want to decrease the amount of students from Chuuk, Yap and Palau. In fact, we would like to increase the number of students we serve from there at both the Guam campus and in the teaching facilities that we run in all three places. But we would also like to see more students from the other Pacific islands and Asian students reflecting the Filipino, Korean, Chinese,and  Japanese communities of Guam. We would like to see more American and other Western students who would like to get an American accredited education in an island culture setting, as well as serving the military community on Guam. We would especially like to serve the needs of the local people of Guam so they would not need to leave the island to receive quality Christian higher education. My dream is that PIU would be a kaleidoscope of all the people groups of the Pacific. Not only will this move us toward fulfilling the Great Commission, but I believe the original Chuukese, Palauan and Yapese students and communities will have greater benefit from their PIU education. 

We also must widen the diversity of our faculty and staff. Originally, most of the teachers and staff were Liebenzell missionaries from the USA and Germany. Most of our staff is still from these two countries. In the last few years we have been recruiting staff and faculty from the islands and from Asia. This effort is hampered somewhat by the fact that about half of our staff has raised their own support to come to PIU and are not paid by the school. We are excited to see churches from Asia begin to get involved in PIU and to support faculty members from their own countries. As we raise funds to pay local staff and faculty, we hope to bring in more local members to the PIU staff and faculty team.   

Finally we need bring more diversity into our programs. Originally PIU was set up to train only leaders for church ministry. We quickly found that as we graduated students with their bachelors' degrees in Biblical Studies, most of them were being employed in schools, businesses and government. It was clear that we needed to train our students for service in the wider community, and we are responding by widening our scope. We began with service minors within the Bible program that provided a nucleus of training in a specific area such as Teaching English as a 2nd Language or elementary education along with our church ministry minors. Last year we added the Certificate in Basic English, which is a remedial program to prepare students for entrance into higher education or the job market (We will be running an intensive CBE program this summer on the Guam campus.) We are planning to add an education major in 2011 and a Liberal Arts major soon after that. As God brings us the people and resources, we are committed to being a leader in meeting the needs of the region to train its young people to serve out of a foundation of a biblical world view. 

There is a lot of variety in the Kingdom of God and I am excited to see PIU becoming a more diverse place too. 


Jen said...

I'm excited, too. It seems to be an exciting time regarding changes and growth in PIU right now. I'm so glad to be a part of it.

Dave Owen said...

It is an exciting time. And thank you for the pictures too.