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By Desiree Datil
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – On April 19, 2012 the Connector Building Atrium will undergo a slight costume change when the lounge area is taken over by tables that contain informational displays about various countries for an event called International Day.

Similar to last year, there will be music, food, a dance performance and a fashion show. A confirmed 13 countries will be represented by students and teachers, including Nigeria, Haiti, Poland and China. Last year, an estimated 200 students and faculty attended the event and the goal is to make a bigger and better event that will attract an even larger audience so International Day will become a college tradition.

While the most obvious purpose of International Day is to teach the Camden County College population about different countries and cultures, International Day is intended to have another effect on those who participate. There are almost 500 international students in attendance at Camden County College and many more who have recently immigrated. Many students do not even realize the large international student population at Camden County College because of cultural barriers that prevent the international students from fully integrating with the student population.

“We hope that this event will break those students’ boundaries,” says Paulina Kruszewski, president of the International Club. “We just want all of the American students to know that we are here on campus. We want to show everyone our culture, to show everybody that we are just like them. We want to show American students that we can be your friends as well.”

International Day raises community awareness about the plethora of cultures that are represented on campus by many individuals. Kathryn L’Esperance, office Manager of ESL/ International Student Services, believes the most important contribution of International Day is awareness. “For me personally, I just think that it is important that we let students gain a better understanding of the student population that goes here. I just think that if they know more that they are more accepting,” says L’Esperance.

Sentiment seems to be similar among several faculty members, as many sociology classes and most ESL classes have been cancelled for that day, just like last year, with the understanding that students will attend the event.

An underlying theme that remains is called “Fun Facts” where each country that is represented features an interesting fact about that country. The premise is if an interested student walks away remembering this one fact the entire event has achieved its purpose, and the international students, as Kruszewski says, “realize that they can be a part of something significant.”

International Day will take place at the CCC Connector Building Atrium on the Blackwood campus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 19.

Cristina Poiata (left), Charly Mazalier (middle) and Paulina Kruszewski (right) prepare for International Day. By Desiree Datil, CCC Journalism Program

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