Before they walk across the commencement stage or return to their homelands to complete their degrees, nearly 40 of Bridgewater State University's foreign exchange students were honored at the International Graduation and Farewell Celebration.
The students hailed from countries all over the world, including Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, China, India, Japan, Jordan and Russia. Certificates of achievement were awarded to the students, who are enrolled full-time in graduate and undergraduate programs or here as part of an exchange agreement. The event was hosted by the Center for International Engagement for a crowd of students, faculty and staff in the Burnell Hall cafeteria.
(For a full list of graduates click here. Scroll to the bottom of the newsletter. Also, see below this story for videos of the full speeches and presentations.)
Congratulatory remarks were provided by Dr. Michael Kryzanek, director of global studies and executive director of international engagement at CIE, who praised the international students -- who he called "global citizens" -- for coming to another country, out of their comfort zones, with new living habits, cultures and languages.
"I want to praise you for your courage," he said. "I hope you're all as proud of yourselves as you should be."
Additional remarks were provided by Fred Clark, executive vice president and vice president for external affairs. He told the students they have imprinted on the campus community lessons in diverse cultures and differing worldviews.
"When you leave here, know that you've left a gift at BSU," he said. "You've helped everyone you've interacted with."
Dr. Roopa Rawjee, director of International Student Services, also offered kind remarks. In closing the ceremony, some of the international students delivered their own presentations on their experiences at BSU.
Ying Zhao, an exchange student from China, delivered a presentation with friend, Isabelle Teasdale Boivin of Canada. In their talk, which involved humorous anecdotes and cultural observations, they praised their experience as life-altering. "Now with what we've learned and seen, we are different people," said Ms. Zhao. "We will return home to make our lives and communities better."
Additional presentations were delivered by: Anna Byvsheva, a graduate student from Russia; Carlos Baia Mendes and Miriam Monteiro, graduate exchange students from Cape Verde; Meredith Manaog, exchange student from Hawaii; and Seleh Al-Omar, a graduate student from Jordan. (Rob Matheson, '07, University Advancement; video by Moakley TV Studio)
Bottom photo caption: Lisa Donegan (left), director of study abroad for the CIE, and Dr. Roopa Rawjee (right) honor Kristina Kapanova (center, left), a graduate student from Bulgaria, and Justin Casey for their excellent work as graduate assistants for the CIE.
A photo montage of the international students receiving their certificates from Fred Clark.