CIE adds Dr. Sam Kwapong to bring knowledge and prior experience to staff
By Briana Dunn, Staff Writer
Colorful posters and souvenirs scatter the walls of the Center for International Education, welcoming the new Director of International Students and Scholar Services Dr. Samuel Kwapong.
Prior to moving to Cincinnati, Kwapong lived in many different places. Originally from Ghana, he immigrated to Connecticut to finish high school and studied at Western Connecticut State for his bachelor’s degree in social work.
Before coming to Xavier, Kwapong was the director of multicultural and international student services in San Diego and worked at Miami University of Ohio. In college, he also volunteered with the international office at his university.
Having completed his undergraduate work, he moved to Los Angeles to earn his master’s degree in Christian Education at Azusa Pacific University. Later, Kwapong earned his doctorate at Grand Canyon University, researching international students and cultural competence.
Kwapong has traveled around the U.S., some of which he credits to his role in the U.S. Army Reserve. He was stationed in Fort Jackson, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Drum and Fort Harrison in addition to his residencies on the East and West coasts, and now the Midwest.
According to Kwapong, traveling across the country prepared him for his role as the director of international students and scholar services at Xavier.
“(You) don’t necessarily have to travel — to get on a plane — to experience new cultures. You know you can even find new cultures even in your own surroundings,” Kwapong said.
At Xavier, Kwapong views his job as the director of international students and scholar Services in three ways: creating a relationship with the students, enacting policies to help international students and the legal aspect by helping them stay in status.
“If the student doesn’t see me as somebody they can come to, I shouldn’t be here, right? So I need to create a relationship with them. I need to create a home away from home for them,” he said.
When advising students, Kwapong refers to what he calls the four D’s: dexterity, desires, demand and dough, or money.
“It’s almost like a Venn diagram. Find that spot and say here’s my design. Here’s something I love, here’s something I’m good at, here’s something that the world needs more of and it’s for something someone will pay me for,” Kwapong said.
“I mean, it becomes a very small part. But that is your purpose.”
As for Kwapong’s position, he feels fortunate to work with students so they don’t feel like he did as an immigrant to the U.S.
“I don’t want any international student to ever feel (a culture shock),” Kwapong commented on his struggles during his first year of college.
“As a third culture kid, what we struggle with is you don’t really have (a group). My African friends sometimes don’t see me as African (and) my American friends, sometimes they see me as African,” Kwapong said.
Although he’s only been on campus for three weeks, Dr. Kwapong appreciates the atmosphere at Xavier. “We celebrate with our students and we mourn with our students when they need be and we laugh with our students,” Kwapong said. “I like that atmosphere where the student (is) first, because the students are the clients.”
Xavier’s community and genuine relationships are extremely important to Kwapong, as well as caring for students as a holistic being. However, the most important thing for Kwapong is the future of Xavier.
“The strategic plan that our new president has put forward and what she wants to see, especially when it comes to international education, is something that I wanted to be a part of,” Kwapong noted. “And so far, since I’ve been here, I see it.”