Everything Goshen College has been in the past has brought us to this moment. When Goshen College created Study-Service Term (SST) in 1968, it was one of only two colleges in the United States that required international education as part of the general education curriculum. Almost 50 years later, SST is still the standard by which other colleges and universities seek to emulate for their study abroad programs. Students return transformed, with new understanding about the world, and often with new visions for what they want to do in life. Example after example abounds of how that transformation has turned to a passion to serve in the community they live in.
Several years ago, Arlin and Naomi Hunsberger shared their intent to donate their entire Haitian art collection (over 90 pieces) to Goshen College. This began exciting conversations and plans to ensure this collection would be accessible to the public and used as a catalyst to improve the Union Building (originally built in 1950).
“We are honored to pass along this collection of art for future generations of students, faculty and visitors, that it might inspire an understanding of Haitian culture and the fascinating world of Haitian art. Most of all we hope that it brings pleasure and enjoyment, as it was a joy for us to collect. We hope that our selections reflect the magnificent wealth of creativity and artistic energy that inspired us to begin our journey 40 years ago, and it makes us happy to know that the wonderful talent of these world renowned artists will be accessible to the public.”
In 1962, while Goshen College Director Emeritus of International Education Arlin and Naomi Hunsberger were working in Haiti with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), they became interested in the local art. As they became familiar with local artists and galleries, this interest turned into a passion, feeding a desire to learn more about a country that they had come to love.
Over the course of 18 years in Haiti, including multiple MCC assignments and five stints as Study-Service Term (SST) leaders, they amassed a collection with more than 90 pieces of art, thought to be one of the largest in the country.
As the program’s first director, Arlin utilized his prior international experience to catapult the SST program into a foundational and distinctive reason to choose Goshen College for study.
The “Union” had become increasingly obsolete with the additions of the Roman Gingerich Recreation and Fitness Center (1994), the Music Center (2002) and the addition of Java Junction in the Yoder/Miller/Kratz Connector (2004). The Lilly Endowment, Inc. made possible the first phase of renovation in 2012.
As the college renews its master plan for physical space, emerging through an intercultural conversion of all college systems, while anticipating a celebration of its storied study abroad program, the timing of accepting this gift and honoring the Hunsbergers could not be better. The convergence of these important markers make this the right time to complete a new phase of renewal for the historic Union Building, recapturing its central role as the crossroads of campus where the community connects.