Byron Peachey begins his first semester in a new role as Eastern Mennonite University’s director of intercultural programs*. He was formerly an advisor and instructor for student success in the Provost’s Office.
Peachey will coordinate off-campus intercultural undergraduate and graduate courses, provide academic and programmatic oversight of the undergraduate intercultural requirement, and teach undergraduate intercultural learning courses.
Former director Beth Good has moved into a position as the new program director of the Master of Science in Nursing program.
“In multiple roles at EMU I’ve sought to be strongly student-centered: Where does learning take place, how do we support growth, self-awareness, openness and curiosity about the larger world?” Peachey said. “Intercultural experiences, whether they happen on campus, in our Harrisonburg context, in our Washington D.C. program and throughout the US or internationally, are a central aspect of EMU’s values and mission. I’m excited to give leadership for the future.”
Provost Fred Kniss spoke to the “wealth of international and EMU work experience” Peachey brings to the position. Peachey has been involved in campus ministries, student advising, and teaching in the undergraduate general education and Bible and religion programs. He served as associate campus pastor from 2002-12.
Peachey, who is fluent in Spanish, recently returned from leading a summer intercultural in Spain with his spouse and social work professor Deanna Durham. He has also led six semester-long groups to Mexico, Guatemala, and Cuba, and the May term “Local Context” intercultural experience. This program includes immersion in Washington D.C., where he previously lived for 17 years.
Peachey was involved in an inner-city mission congregation, Community of Hope, in Washington, D.C., where he was a social worker and development director. He previously served four years as co-director of Mennonite Central Committee’s work in El Salvador. He has a master’s degree in theology (mission and cross cultural studies) from Washington Theological Union, a master’s degree in counseling from EMU, and a bachelor’s degree in social work from the Catholic University of America.
“Byron brings a mix of skills, dispositions, and experiences that will be important in his leadership of EMU’s Intercultural Programs as we strive to continually evolve to best serve the needs of our students,” said Kniss. “I am confident that Byron will carry on the important work of envisioning and re-envisioning EMU’s Intercultural Program to ensure access and achievement for all our students in their intercultural learning and development.”
*Why the change from cross-cultural to intercultural learning?
EMU’s intercultural program is designed to develop cultural understanding and global awareness through an experience of living and learning in a different culture. The focus of the program is to learn from and with others, which goes beyond and is more interactive than learning about others. Across four decades of educational travel, how we understand what is required of individuals engaged in this multi-layered learning has moved from thinking about cross-cultural engagement to a more complex and mutual intercultural exchange that is relational, on-going learning that is integrated into our home identity and culture over time. Intercultural learning occurs in a dynamic and cyclical process of orientation, disorientation, reorientation and on again through disorientation, reorientation. The result is to see one’s self and the world differently because of the relationships, awareness and understanding which develop through interaction in a different cultural context.