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You are the voice. We are the echo.
The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Friday, April 12, 2024
The Echo
Family Dinner - found family.jpg

Our View: Celebrating found family

Family is more than biology.

From the beginning of time, humans have sought intimacy in relationships of all kinds. Created to reflect the relational nature of the Holy Trinity, we are hard-wired for this type of connection.

The reality is that “family” looks different for everybody. It’s often less about proximity and blood relations than about heart ties; for many, found family is just as important as inherited family.

We believe that it is the believer’s calling to exemplify Christ in drawing near to those outside our immediate families, with the knowledge that all are invited to be a part of the broader family of Christ followers.

In a country that tends toward isolation in the name of independence – and divisiveness in the name of freedom – it is crucial that we champion the idea of family.

At Taylor, this can look like celebrating diversity, extending opportunity for connection and pursuing unity.

There are several campus initiatives committed to this very thing.

Maribel Magallanes (’13), director of student leadership and cultural programs, is in her position today because of the impact of her experience as a Mexican American multicultural student at Taylor.

“In my case, it was board members from Taylor that really took a hold of me and made me feel part of the Taylor family and helped me walk through those moments of feeling homesick,” she said.

Magallanes seeks to provide that same support for Taylor’s multicultural student population through the Office of Intercultural Programs (OIP), a collaborative effort of several student organizations that celebrate multicultural diversity.

Many students have found family within the OIP. Juniors Dawit Cronin and Dani Gavilanez are two examples of those whose stories have been greatly impacted by these programs.

Cronin is a sports management major. This year, he serves as co-president of Multicultural Student Association (MSA). Cronin describes his vision of MSA as being an opportunity to raise awareness and promote celebration for different cultures and ethnicities represented on campus.

Adopted from Ethiopia at age eight, Cronin has valued the opportunity to lean further into his Ethiopian background by learning about the culture from other Ethiopian students. He’s also grateful to have found a community within the OIP’s Adoption Club.

Cronin emphasized the value found in understanding our shared background as believers.

“We’re united under God,” he said. “Just because we are in different locations doesn’t mean that we’re different people.”

This year, chemistry major Dani Gavilanez is co-president of MuKappa, an organization that supports missionary kids.

Gavilanez grew up as a missionary kid in Hue, Vietnam. This experience was crucial in shaping who she is today and how she serves others like her here on campus.

During her time in Vietnam, Gavilanez remembers how impactful it was to live in community with other missionary families.

“I think that’s a common experience for people who have lived overseas because they don’t have direct access to some of their family,” she said. “You kind of create a sort of family.”

MSA and MuKappa are just two of many spaces on campus that help students find belonging in their shared experiences.

Nate Chu (’05) is in his third year as director of international student programs. Chu was born in California and grew up in Kenya, but his family is from Hong Kong. He certainly resonates with those for whom “home” has layered meaning. 

“We all want to find places where we belong,” Chu said.

As a body of believers, we are called to unity under the gospel. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

We should be encouraged in our efforts to celebrate diversity as we consider how the cross has secured our place in the family that is the Kingdom of God.