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Director’s experience traveling around the globe encourages acceptance of others

Krishna Han

There are nearly 200 countries on Earth and Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs Krishna Han has not visited all of them, but he seems to be well on his way.

“I’ve been to 46 countries,” he said. “I just love traveling. I hope I can do more.”

Han grew up in Cambodia and was an undergrad in the country before moving to Japan, where he received his master’s and Ph.D. He then came to the United States to reunite with his family and finally relocated to Bowling Green, where he originally worked on a local political campaign to rid of a discriminatory law.

Before going to a new country, Han said he makes it a point to study the area.

“I try to do my research on history, culture, politics and government,” he said. “Every interaction, how people behave is impacted by this … [and it’s] the interaction with the people that [makes] the biggest impact on me.”

Han, who speaks five languages [four fluently], said he likes to “maximize” his experience by spending a significant amount of time in one place, as it allows him to “embrace the culture,” which he sees as crucial in learning to understand people.

“We often interpret people from different cultures as weird,” Han said. “We just have to understand where they come from and why it makes sense to them.”

In his role as Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs, he utilizes this knowledge of other cultures positively, said sophomore Breanna Jones, who is involved with Multicultural Affairs and was in a diversity peer educator class taught by Han.

“He definitely gives you that global perspective,” Jones said. “He understands that diversity and being inclusive is not an overnight [thing].”

Han’s colleague, Assistant Director for Access, Diversity and Inclusion programs Tobias Spears, said he brings a different type of cultural confidence to his role.

“His travels have allowed him to speak to different points of view and allows him to bring up issues people may not think about all the time,” Spears said.

In addition to teaching a class once a semester, Han is also responsible for the diversity education program, responding to workshop requests, overseeing the ethnic student center and, according to Spears, working closely with international students.

“He really has emphasis on building relationships with international students,” Spears said. “[And] cultivating an environment where they feel welcome.”

Han described the Office of Multicultural Affairs as an entity that helps advocate for diversity, cross-cultural understanding, inclusion and social justice, in which “building coalition and ally is key.”

Han is deeply concerned about social justice work.

“My role here has allowed me to do the work that I’m so passionate about,” he said. “I encourage students of all backgrounds to come and join us. Participate in the OMA [and] check out the [weekly] discussion series.”

Han also recommends every student study abroad for at least a semester, if they’re able to, and to learn a foreign language.

“Learning a language is more than just a memorization of vocabularies,” he said. “[It] gives you a new window into culture, how people think, how they communicate.”

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