By Maggie Buterbaugh And Sabrina Carroll
Elm Staff Writer and Student Life Editor
Washington College has been going through staff changes recently all across campus. One of these changes has been the addition of Director of Intercultural Affairs Ahyana King. Coming all the way from Spokane, Wash., King has already begun initiating change and making important connections with students despite only being in her new position for a few weeks.
What is it like being the director of Intercultural Affairs at WC?
The position is a newly designed and reimagined position, one that is intended to make room for working to support students in their advocacy for, creation of, and sustainability of an intercultural campus community that values and celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion. When I think of what it’s like to serve in this capacity, I find it awesomely overwhelming as there is great work to do and great potential to do the great work. The possibilities are endless for the ways to creatively engage the community in powerful and impactful ways.
Where were you before coming to WC?
I was the assistant dean of intercultural student development at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., where I had the privilege of working to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus along with a team of 15 student leaders who were equally devoted to that work.
How do you like it here in Chestertown?
I am a city person at heart, and I always will be. With that said, I have enjoyed the uniqueness of Chestertown and the treasures it offers. I am a huge fan of Play It Again Sam on Cross Street where you can find me most Sundays sipping on a vanilla soy latte and blogging. I also find myself very curious about the town and its history, particularly as it pertains to the various aspects of culture such as race and class.
What do you think about the campus?
WC is a beautiful campus ripe for change. Its lineage of proud traditions is evident and seems to be what attracts and grounds so many of the campus community members. At the same time, it seems to be a campus community willing to explore the ways in which it can be an even better campus, one full of traditions that are more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and ultimately intercultural.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I truly enjoy working with students and empowering them to have a vision and make it come to fruition. There are students on campus who believe the college can do better to be civically engaged citizens not shying away from challenging or difficult conversations or incidents that negatively portray or hurt an aspect of someone’s identity. It’s been great to have students reach out to me and share various program ideas they have as well as ask how they can partner with me.
How are you connecting with students?
Fortunately, I came on board and there were three students hired to work with me, and I can absolutely see why they were hired. I have also been fortunate to engage with international students, whether assisting during their check-in and arrival to campus, their orientation, or stopping by the Global Education Center (GEC) to say hello. I have been able to be a part of professional development for some of the student leaders on campus. I also make time to walk around campus, eat in the dining hall, attend on campus events, and I’ve gone over to Java George a few times to have coffee with students and talk with them.
What do you want the community to know about you?
That I am probably one of the most unconventional, creative professionals in this work they field get to work with. Emphasis on with. I don’t see this work as mine alone, nor do I perceive it as work for the administration and faculty, but a collective approach where I seek to partner with members of the community for the betterment of the community. I am also one to really strive to push others to think critically and empathetically about inter-culturalism, diversity, equity, ad inclusion, pushing past comfort levels of good intentions and intentionally doing good work. Lastly, I love good food. I love to cook it, serve it, and eat it.
Coming all the way from Spokane, Wash. is definitely a huge change, but King is ready to take it on.