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First NECC International Meet and Greet Held

Submitted by on September 25, 2017 – 6:22 pm

NECC’s International students.

A smorgasbord of worldly fare and several dozen Northern Essex Community College students and faculty made for a successful inaugural International Community Meet and Greet held on the second floor of the Student Center on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at noon.

The majority of the more than 20 international students currently enrolled in NECC’s business, engineering, computer information sciences, and general studies with health and art specializations, mingled with faculty and staff as they noshed on tacos, a Mediterranean platter, lo mien, and mac ‘n cheese.

“This is the first in a series of different events with the goal of having a more global environment at NECC ,” said Analuz Garcia, assistant director of NECC’s International and Community Relations

Northern Essex has a renewed commitment to recruiting and retaining international students according to Izabela Kaczynska Iem, international student administrator at NECC.

“Our international students hear about us by word of mouth. They have family in the area. They come because they have roots in the area and it’s affordable for them.”

Northern Essex currently hosts students from Kenya, Cameroon, Vietnam, Turkey, Italy, Philippines, Albania, Gabon, Malaysia, and India. Students are invited to pin their home country on a map located in a glass case just outside the door to the NECC book store.

Kaczynska Iem said the international office, among other things, assists the international students with their F1 student visa compliance. Now, there is even an NECC international student dedicated web page on the NECC website.

“We help them maintain their status while feeling like part of the community,” she said.

Glen Gjuraj of Albania who goes by the nickname “newman”, is an art major with an interest in marketing who intends to use his education to “create a clear message” while making the “world a better place for the next generation.”

Rose Bellahalea, 23, of Cameroon, is living with her sister while she pursues a biology degree in the hopes of entering a nursing program.

“I like Northern Essex. It’s very welcoming,” she said. “Like a little family.”

The menu, which was catered by NexDine, was selected to introduce participants to the food of different cultures.

Noemi Custodia-Lora, vice president Lawrence campus and community relations, said this event was the first in a series.

“We want the college community to be aware of the International community here on campus,” she said. “And to empower them and make them feel like they are part of the community. When you are exposed to other cultures, it makes you better global citizens.”

Ivy Ngugi visiting from Kenya, said a friend found Northern Essex for her and now she is enrolled in the computer information sciences program.

“I love it here,” she said. “It’s a nice place. Everyone is friendly.”

Joan Ndungu, also of Kenya, is a general studies: health specialization major. She has been taking classes for three years and was inspired to start an NECC International Club.

“I felt the international student needed a voice,” she said. “We can help each other and share our experiences.”

For additional information on the International Students visit the international student website.

Or contact  Garcia at or Kaczynska Iem at