Cultural exchange for 1,500 students

by Lauren Baker

Anyone who was at Rider this summer probably noticed the 1,540 foreign students who made the campus their home.

These students were part of a summer program hosted by the university called the Study Tours Program, where high school and middle school students from Italy, Spain, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia come to New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, Canada and, starting in 2009, California, to improve their English skills. Students stayed in Zeigler, New Building and, occasionally, in some of the Greek houses, taking English classes in the morning Tuesday through Saturday and, in the afternoons and on weekends, taking trips or doing school activities.
There were four two-week-long sessions, three with 360 students and one with 460, with students ranging in age from 14 to 19.

One campus activity was the Study Tours “Olympics,” which consisted of a tug-of-war, a water-balloon fight, a pizza-eating contest and a soccer game. They also did arts and crafts and recreational activities.

“What they really loved was when we had discos in the pub,” said sophomore Stephanie Rosato, who worked on the staff. “Techno music was very popular with them.”

There were four discos each session with different themes: black and white, reverse, where girls dressed up as boys and vice versa, toga and a final farewell.

Students also went on weekend trips to explore the area, one to New York City and another to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. In New York, they went to the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. They took a tour of the city, going to the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, Ground Zero and Wall Street and had lunch in Central Park. In Washington, D.C., students went to the Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall and other tourist sites.

During the week, they sometimes took trips to the movies or went bowling. They traveled into the historical district of Philadelphia and took a night trip into Princeton. They also took a day trip into New York City, where they saw a Broadway play, choosing from Mamma Mia!, The Phantom of the Opera or Grease and had lunch at the Hard Rock Café.

They took trips to the Top of the Rock, Fifth Avenue, Chinatown, the Empire State Building and other out-of-state trips, like the one to Washington, D.C. and to the inner harbor in Baltimore.

The students traveled to Rider this summer, merging cultures and languages. This was a life-changing experience for the students who came here and for the students who worked there, Rosato said.

“You meet the best sort of people here,” she said. “I feel like it really helped me grow as a person. I became so close with the staff and with the other students. It is truly an experience I will never forget.”

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