Cultural, ethnic diversity enrich officer training
CADETS LISTEN INTENTLY to a training lecture at Crestmont College.
One of the strengths of Crestmont College’s School for Officer Training is the cultural and ethnic diversity of its cadets.
More than half of the students currently preparing for officership bring ethnic diversity and provide a rich opportunity to bring multicultural principles into the classroom, according to Vice Provost for Cross Cultural Studies Lt. Colonel Alicia Burger.
“Diversity says that we are different but can find a common ground. For us as Christians, Kingdom values are our common ground,” Burger said. “And the Biblical view in the New Testament is multicultural. Obviously this Salvation Army college, as part of our international organization, is committed to a climate of mutual respect among faculty, staff and students. But more than that, we are challenging ourselves to attract people from diverse backgrounds to come to training and to provide an equal opportunity for every student to gather, learn and assimilate in-formation in preparation for ministry in a multicultural world.”
According to Burger, the individualized curriculum gives cadets from diverse linguistic backgrounds a structured Eng-lish language training with the college’s full-time ESL specialist as well as counseling and mentoring.
The college also provides professional instruction for faculty in cross-cultural pedagogical studies and diversity training for staff and students. Personal interviews and pre-testing for limited English prospective candidates during assessment weekends at the college help identify those who can benefit from extra tutoring and mentoring from officers or lay leaders at their division before taking the required TOEFL Exam (Test of English as a Foreign Lan-guage).
Recognizing that the future will demand officers who are not only multicultural but multi-lingual, the college en-courages all cadets to study a language.
The need for attracting and preparing a growing diverse cadet population is a direct result of the rapidly changing demographics of the Western Territory, says Burger. “We live in one of the most diverse regions of the world and we need many more officers in the field who can minister to this diversity. Recruitment at the divisional level is critical to building an officer corps for our territory’s future.”
Burger, who will chair the Territorial Multicultural Com-mittee, will also work with the new territorial multicultural director, Claude Nikondeha, to assist divisions in identifying, cultivating and preparing a diverse candidate pool.
A specific need to recruit Spanish-speaking cadets has also led to work in progress for an articulation agreement with the Long Beach-based Instituto Biblico para la Educacion Teologica, a Salvation Army divisional Bible institute which prepares Hispanic Salvation Army lay personnel for the ministry. Such an agreement would allow graduates some transfer credits for Crestmont.
“Any way we can, we want to facilitate people coming to Crestmont with diverse backgrounds,” Burger said. “My job is to ensure that we get candidates for officership who reflect the broad diversity of the West, that they get equal training, and that every cadet learns to expand his or her world view.”