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International Culture Event Promotes Understanding and Communication

Award-winning artist Judy Wu pictured with her watercolor painting.

Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) English as a Second Language (ESL) students promoted understanding and communication through the language of music, art, and food on November 18, during a virtual celebration of international cultures.

Eight students representing seven different countries, including Brazil, China, Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey, Russia and Vietnam, shared favorite recipes, artistic skills, pictures and music as they enjoyed describing to viewers information about each of their countries. The annual event, ordinarily held in-person on campus, was coordinated by the College’s Adult Education instructors and staff to recognize the many cultures and countries taking part in the program.

Elisabete Dias demonstrates how to make Brigadeiro, Brazilian sweets similar to bonbons.

“We love hosting this for students because it gives us an opportunity to really celebrate everyone’s countries and their cultures,” said ESL Instructor Nancy Nolan. “Even though the event had to be held remotely this year because of the pandemic, it was an enjoyable day for the students, faculty and community members, providing students with a chance to practice and get over any shyness that they may sometimes have. We always try to provide them with confidence and support in the program, but with this event, the students are able to practice their new language and feel more comfortable.”

During the virtual celebration, students were live on camera describing to viewers their cultural traditions. Judy Wu, an award-winning artist from the Republic of China, displayed her beautiful ink and wash paintings, explaining the East Asian brush technique. Vietnamese craftsman Tam Nguygen presented instructions on how to make colorful, hand-stitched leaf hats. Chun Ying Wei, a resident of Washington Township, performed traditional Chinese music. Food was also a popular conversation among the students, with Elisabete Dias, Tugce Moustafa, Veronica Mendez and Esther Lopez revealing their much-loved recipes.

“My goal for learning English is to be able to communicate with others,” said Sirlene Arroyo of Brazil, who held a Q & A with her daughter’s friends. Dias agreed. “My favorite thing about learning English is using it in daily life. I feel like everything is paying off,” she said.

Rowan College of South Jersey’s 250-acre Gloucester campus is located on Tanyard Road in Deptford, just off Exit 56 off of Route 55. For more information about the College’s ESL program, visit