HESSTON — This year, international students represent 14% of the student population at Hesston College and students hail form 25 different nations.

They come from across the globe, and they will give the community a chance to learn about those faraway places during an annual event next week.

Overall, official enrollment numbers released following the 20th day of classes show a total student enrollment of 386 from 32 U.S. states and territories and 25 countries. The domestic student population includes 51% from Kansas and 35% from other U.S. states and territories. International students comprise 15% of the population. Domestic minority students have climbed to 25% of the population.

Hesston College will host its annual Cultures Fair from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 7 in the Hesston Mennonite Church Community Center, 309 S. Main St., Hesston. The come-and-go event, which is free and open to the public, celebrates the campus’s diversity of cultures represented by international students from 27 countries, including U.S. territories.

This fall the countries represented on campus include Albania, Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Guam, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the United States.

The Cultures Fair features students showcasing their countries and cultures through displays and presentations, food, singing, dancing and more.

Hesston College welcomed 192 new students to the community for the 2019-20 year, swinging the new student number back in the positive direction following a smaller new student number of 184 a year earlier.

“Nationwide, the number of high school graduates has been dropping over the last decade,” said president Joseph A. Manickam. “Because of this reality paired with a lower new student number in 2018, we anticipated a smaller enrollment this fall, and we have planned accordingly. We have exciting and innovative plans in the works now that we anticipate will have a positive impact in the future.”

Hesston’s plan to add four-year degree programs as it has with the new bachelor’s degree program in aviation this fall and nursing in 2015 offer an area for continued growth. This fall, the nursing program has 102 junior and senior students in the final years of their degree training. The aviation program grew by nine students, to a total of 47, between the spring 2019 and fall 2019 semesters, including 15 first-year students joining the community and four juniors comprising the first bachelor’s degree class.

Other program additions, like the new Intensive English Language Program, could help with growth as early as the spring semester as the five students enrolled in the first year of the non-credit program have the ability to enroll as full-time students in the spring semester following completion of their language study.

“Higher education has some difficult realities to face right now, and we’re working hard to ensure we’re responding in a way that is sustainable for the future and offers growth opportunities,” Manickam said.