Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 5, 2012

WHO WE ARE PROFILE: Dr. Robert Reyes


— Dr. Robert Reyes, 45, is the research director for the Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning at Goshen College. In 2010 he was co-editor of the three­-volume study “Latinos in North Central Indiana: A Historical Account of Their Settlement 1990-2009.”

Before coming to Goshen College he taught for 11 years as an associate professor of human development and family science at Messiah College

How long have you lived in the

Goshen area?

Four and one half years. I moved to Goshen to help develop the research program for the Center for Intercultural Teaching & Learning at Goshen College (July 2007)

What schools did you attend?

1989 — bachelor of arts, Oral Roberts University — Tulsa, Okla.; 1992 — master of divinity (marriage and family therapy) Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.; 1995 — Ph.D. (marital and family studies) Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.

What is your fondest memory

of this community?

One of my fondest memories since coming to this community has been seeing my children participate in the Goshen school orchestra program. The fact that my two daughters have been able to be part of this program since fifth grade has been a real gift.

At a time in which many of these programs are being cut across the country, it is great to see our children have the opportunity here to be introduced to the arts. It has also been great to see how the love for music has an amazing capacity to bridge cultural differences and bring people together. Ultimately, all parents want to see their children be successful and it is wonderful to see how, through music education, this is taking place in our community.

Describe what you feel is

the essence of this community

I believe that there are a lot of factors that contribute toward enhancing the quality of life in our community. However, what I think is most distinctive is that for the most part, people here in Goshen have a sincere love for this town and a deep commitment to see the community grow and develop.

This sense of determination and positive outlook toward the future is also seen in the many activities and efforts all around our community. Events like “First Fridays,” or “Wake up Goshen” as well as the many children intramural sport activities and orchestra concerts are examples of that. This past year, for instance, I had the opportunity to serve on the education committee for the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and it has been remarkable to see the enthusiasm and sincere desire of business leaders to support our students and let others know about the many good things that are happening in our schools.

What about this community would you like to improve?

One of the areas where I feel we can improve is in enhancing and developing better avenues of communication among the different ethnic groups in our community.

Significant progress has been made in this area through the efforts of the Goshen Community Relations Commission. The celebration of events such as Diversity Day has proven to be a great opportunity for different groups to meet and learn from one another. Similar activities like this are needed to increase opportunities for communication and understanding.

What is this community’s

best kept secret?

My work at Goshen College has allowed me to connect with a number of community and business leaders interested in addressing the educational needs in our community. Among them I have had the opportunity to work with a very special group of individuals in the Goshen Community Schools who work tirelessly in supporting the education of our students. The Parent Liaisons is a group of very important leaders that serves  as a vital link between our immigrant families and the school district.

In addition to providing translation services, they help families respond to social needs as well as navigate the Goshen school system. In a recent study I conducted, I had the opportunity to observe first-hand how one of these leaders not only assisted students but also helped address very basic needs as several families came to access the small food pantry that the school had started, thanks to her efforts.

As the population continues to change and grow, these parent liaisons are truly remarkable people who serve as a critical link in enhancing the wellbeing of our community.