The era of Zoom has opened a world of speakers who can share stories and challenge students to think differently—and social media influencer Kevin Wilson is no exception.
Wilson joined Dr. Seth Pierce’s Intercultural Communication class virtually from California to share his story of growing up all over the world and ultimately using his experience to share Christ in a unique way.
Born in Sri Lanka and raised there until age 12, Wilson then moved to Oman in the Middle East. When he turned 18, he moved to the U.S. to attend Andrews University, as he said, to earn a degree in “sarcasm and theology.”
However, Wilson’s history is not as simple as naming the countries in which he’s lived. “When people ask me where I’m from, I feel like I always have to give them a story, not just a specific location, because every place that I’ve been and every place I’ve grown up has shaped the person that I am.”
As the class has learned this semester, his upbringing makes Wilson a third culture kid. As he explained it, a third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant amount of time in different countries and cultures. Kevin talked about how he felt out of place, as if he was a forever alien. He felt as if he “fit everywhere, but also nowhere.”
Becoming a social media influencer
One morning in 2019, Wilson was making himself chai and recorded the process on his phone. He usually shared these videos on Instagram with his fellow chai-loving friends, but this day, he decided to share it on TikTok (@crossculturechristian). His video exploded and within a week his follower count jumped to 10,000.
Wilson continued to produce more chai-related content, but his message has evolved to represent more than just a drink.
“I use chai as a tool for activism,” he said. Two of his most popular videos are about the discrimination and persecution of Muslims in Sri Lanka and anti-Asian violence in America.
Wilson also uses TikTok to discuss Jesus and the gospels in a simple way. “I try to describe truths, rather than prescribe truths.”
Chai has become the foundation for his stories. He videos the process of making chai and inserts a voiceover recording in the background, discussing his life stories, what it’s like being a cross-cultural Christian, and the hardships he has faced, all while relating it to chai.
“He was able to reach past his cultural norms and blocks in order to reach out to people,” said Jacob Sanchez, a sophomore communication major.
Wilson’s advice for the class when it comes to ministering to others is to start with themselves. “The stories and the experiences that you record today can be content and stories that can rescue somebody else tomorrow.”
Mary Freeman, a junior communication major, appreciated how Wilson explained that each of us have experiences that make us different from everyone else, and how we can use our stories to reach people who others can’t.
“I hope students learn how those in third cultures have unique identity and communication challenges to navigate, as well as the value of creative communication in building intercultural relationships,” Pierce explained. He continues to use guest speakers such as Wilson to help provide a unique perspective on intercultural communication and help equip students to handle both the relationships and the conflicts they will face in the future.
by Hannah Drewieck, a junior business
and communication major from Wisconsin