Homecoming 2017 has arrived, which means students, faculty and staff find themselves hoping their hard work will pay off.

“I literally woke up so giddy and excited,” said Catherine Burgess, president of the Homecoming steering committee. “It’s Christmas Day and Homecoming when I’m super excited.”

While there is a lot of planning that goes into Homecoming, Burgess said the one aspect that takes about to month to plan is the Homecoming theme. This year, the committee decided on “Cardinals Around the World.”

“Common themes that we found were traveling and different types of cities,” Burgess said. “Another trend was ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ or the ‘Hoosier State.’ So what we wanted to do was consolidate those two trends together, and we came up with ‘Cardinals Around the World’.”

Burgess explained this theme is designed to honor Ball State alumni who live on nearly every continent, recognize international students and support domestic students who are studying abroad. 

One group that is especially appreciative of this year’s theme is the Rinker Center for International Programs. Director of International Information Systems Frankie Adams said this theme, as simple as it may sound, has drawn a lot of attention to the office.

“I’ve received so many phone calls from people outside of the university, and so it has really increased awareness for our opportunities,” Adams said. “People are calling for numbers. People are calling for photos. I’m getting to share those with people who may not have really had an interest in it before.”

The Rinker Center prides itself on being a resource for international students from 71 different countries and a tool for the approximately 500 domestic students who study abroad each year.

However, with the amount of controversy surrounding diversity and inclusion in society today, Adams is thankful for an outlet like Homecoming to enable the appreciation of different cultures. 

“It’s helped to raise awareness of just the overall importance of diversity on campus,” Adams said. “It will hopefully bring some cultural awareness to people in Indiana who might not necessarily get out of the state, let alone the country.”

Lana Wright, office manager and budget administrator at the Rinker Center, agrees.

“I would say for the most part, our campus does respect diversity,” Wright said. “I think that our international students feel welcomed.”

Burgess added these international students can now call Muncie home — another reason why this year’s Homecoming theme encompasses all students past and present.

“We could be anywhere around the world, but no matter what, you can find a home wherever you are,” Burgess said. “Just recognizing that no matter where you are, you can call Muncie home.”

More information on the Rinker Center and its programs, can be found on its website or in person in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center, Room 102.