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© 2019 by the Coalition of International Students and Allies (CISA).

Hello Columbia,

It’s Michael Sanchez – I am a member of the Columbia class of 2018.

During my first year at Columbia, I had the pleasure of taking Back to The Text: Exodus with Anna Carter Florence. Due to that class experience, Exodus is now my favorite book to preach, read, and study. Specifically, Exodus 12:38 which continues to trouble me:

“38 A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds. (NRSV)”

This verse always leaves me wondering what happened to this group. They were mentioned once in the text here and then never again. Where did they go? Did they just separate in the wilderness and go their separate ways, because then why even mention the group in the first place?

During my three years at Columbia, I got the chance to rub shoulders with students, staff, and faculty from across the globe. This was an experience, that I valued deeply as a student and continue to as an alum.

As a student, this opportunity gave me the chance to meet some amazing people, who consider to be both friends as well as colleagues. This opportunity gave me the chance to learn about cultures that there is no way I would have had I not attended Columbia. Stories that have gone on to impact my faith and my ministry. There is no experience that has taught me the beauty of praising God through song than hearing our African students sing. There is no experience that taught me the value of prayer than to hear the stories of dawn prayer from our Korean students. There is no experience that made me want to travel the world and eat everything than international potluck! Columbia has a gift in its mixed crowd, a gift that impacts everyone persons who walks through its halls.

That is why when I heard the news surrounding our international student community, I was heartbroken. Columbia, you stand at the threshold of the wilderness and now is the time to consider if you wish to enter it a mixed crowd or not. I personally applaud and commend our international students for speaking out against the dissolving of the Office of International Programming and the dismissal of Dr. Kevin Park, and as an I alum, I stand with them.

Rev. Michael A. Sanchez

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