Ramapo’s Roukema Center hosts fun International Education Week events

Through Nov. 13-17, the Roukema Center for International Education went big this year to celebrate International Education Week (IEW) by offering more than 15 events that vary from educational to practical to just plain fun.

IEW is a joint initiative from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education that has been hosted annually since 2000. Its purpose is “to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide,” “promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment,” and “attract future leaders from abroad to study in the United States,” according to the International Affairs Office website.

“International education is, of course, important to [the Roukema Center], but it’s important to faculty and students here as well,” said Assistant Director of International Education Kate Lamanna. “Not just students who study abroad or intern abroad or research abroad, but also students who just want to have that intercultural experience with our international student population here on campus.”

Lamanna, along with Director of International Education Leiah Heckathorn and Associate Director of International Student and Scholar Services/PDSO/RO Rajesh Adhikari, has been at the helm of the week’s events, working with the center’s three student aides and a slew of Global Roadrunners — the center’s term for any students who have either come to Ramapo from abroad or have gone abroad to study, intern or do research.

These events range from U.S. Passport Day on Tuesday — where the Bergen County Clerk’s Office came to campus to assist anyone with a completed passport application — to info sessions about immigration or studying abroad to cultural events hosted by Global Roadrunners that cover countries from the United Kingdom to Nepal.

Senior Michelle Ta hosted a Chinese Tea event on Tuesday, where she introduced attendees to the Gong Fu Tea brewing technique, which she explained in an email “differs from the Western brewing style in that it uses more quantity but shorter brewing time.”

Ta was also able to share about her experience studying Mandarin in Taiwan last summer, which she was able to do through the Critical Language Scholarship. 

“This whole experience changed me for the better, as I was able to meet so many different people and come out of my shell,” she stated. “Because of this, I became less afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone and made so many lifelong friendships during and after the experience.”

By sharing about tea, Ta wants to expand students’ cultural horizons. “Although each culture’s ways of preparation are different from each other, at the end of the day we can all come together and enjoy a nice cup of tea,” she stated.

Senior Maya Peacock is teaming up with her peer Sanae Mitsuoka to host Japanese Language Hour on Thursday, where they will be sharing Japanese tongue twisters. 

“We hope that not only do our peers have fun learning these silly tongue twisters, but also realize that… we may be different, but our similarities form the foundation for meaningful connections and shared experiences,” Peacock stated over email.

While Peacock has yet to go abroad yet herself, she shared that she hopes to intern abroad in Japan in the future.

Senior Lucia Budino is hosting Tapas Thursday to share the dish that she said she ate the most while studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. She shared in an email that beyond enjoying the food, she hopes the event will “provoke some questions about where to visit, where to study abroad in this country, and how to afford it” for students.

Lamanna agrees that she hopes IEW will inspire students to consider going abroad and introduce the Roukema Center to them as a valuable resource on campus.

Ta expressed that she’s grateful that the Roukema Center has allowed her to connect with other students. “They… created many opportunities for me to share my experience and encourage students to search for their own adventures abroad,” she stated.

A full list of the remaining events for IEW can be found on the Roukema Center’s website.




Featured photo by Rebecca Gathercole