Roukema Center Offers Language Happy Hour

Photo courtesy of Joomlatools, Flickr

This semester, the Roukema Center for International Education continues to host its Language Happy Hour: one-hour sessions devoted to raising awareness about a specific language and culture. The languages currently offered are German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Hindi and Polish, with French soon to be scheduled. They are usually accompanied by light refreshments that reflect the culture being discussed.

Beginning in the Fall of 2011, the Language Happy Hour initiative was designed as a way for students and faculty of diverse backgrounds to share ideas and experiences in a fun learning environment. All sessions take place on a weekly basis with the exception of Italian, which occurs every other Monday. Japanese Language Happy Hour, which began in the Spring of 2013, remains the most popular among students.

“It’s been a great meeting place to exchange information for students who are interested in studying abroad in Japan and for those who have just returned from Japan,” said Izumi Osawa-Minevich, the Roukema Center’s Program Assistant and host of the Japanese Language Happy Hour. “Students can ask questions about academics or campus life and it helps Japanese students adjust to U.S. culture. There has been a very positive result.”

As with many Language Happy Hours, the Japanese sessions place an emphasis on culture and have also incorporated multimedia elements. Recently, students have been introduced to Japanese TV commercials and “J-Pop,” or Japanese pop music, to analyze the vocabulary and word usage. Refreshments have included matcha (green tea) Japanese cookies, rice crackers, rice balls, miso soup and tamagoyaki, a type of Japanese omelette.         

 "It’s a combination of learning language and culture. Some weeks we cover things like holidays and music and some weeks we focus on basic phrases. You get the best of both worlds,” junior Meghan Mudrick said.

The facilitators of each Language Happy Hour come directly from the college community. German is hosted by Marina Topken, a long-time affiliate of Ramapo, Portuguese is hosted by Nathalye Ribeiro, a Ramapo student, Hindi is hosted by Purvi Parekh, the Director of Alumni and Advancement Information Services, Polish is hosted by Natalia Molitoris, a first-year student, Italian is hosted by Dominick Daddetto, a student and member of the Italian Club, and French will be hosted by a group of faculty and staff on a rotating basis. All languages are taught from a basic level to an advanced level, depending on the participants’ requests. Lessons focus on useful everyday terms, such as school-related vocabulary, asking directions, going to the doctor and talking about hobbies.

 “My experience hosting the Hindi Language Happy Hour has been wonderful,” Parekh said. “Along with sharing information about India and teaching conversational Hindi, I have learned about so many different cultures, traditions and foods from the students, faculty and staff in attendance. I am truly happy to be part of this initiative.”

The current Language Happy Hour schedule is as follows:

German: Mondays from 1 to 2 p.m. (ASB-123)
Italian: every other Monday from 1 to 2 p.m. (A-102)
Portuguese: Wednesdays from 2 to 3 p.m. (ASB-123)
Japanese: Wednesdays from 2 to 3 p.m. (ASB-230)
Hindi: Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m. (ASB-123)
Polish: Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. (ASB-123)
French: please check event calendar online.

For more information, students can contact the Roukema Center in ASB-123 or visit