College of DuPage International Students Bridge Cultural Divides With Food

CCI Cooking Icon

By Mike McKissack

Guided by Culinary, Baking and Pastry Arts Professor Chris Thielman, students attending College of DuPage through the Community College Initiative (CCI) program learned to cook a variety of dishes during a recent culinary exercise at the Culinary & Hospitality Center on the Glen Ellyn campus. Click here to view photos.

Students prepared chicken breasts with a creamed herb sauce, chili, cornbread, fajitas and meatloaf from scratch before sharing a meal together.

Made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of State, the CCI program recruits participants from underserved and unrepresented communities and provides them with quality educational study at U.S. community colleges. The program is designed to build technical skills, enhance leadership capabilities and strengthen English language proficiency.

While at COD, CCI students study one-year, non-degree-granting programs in workforce development fields and receive opportunities for professional internships, service learning and community engagement activities. Upon completion, the students return home with a deeper understanding of U.S. culture and new skills to help them contribute to the economic growth and development of their countries.

CCI program participant and Dominican Republic native Jose Duran Del Rosario said he feels very welcome at the College.

“The College community has embraced our culture and even our languages. The staff and faculty have been welcoming, supportive and committed to our success,” he said.

Currently pursuing certificates in Mechatronics Technology, Programmable Controllers, Process Control Instrumentation and the Lean Six Sigma Certification Green Belt certification in project and business management, Duran Del Rosario plans to return home and give back to his community by sharing the knowledge he’s gained at the College. He also hopes to continue his education, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Electrical, Mechanical or Mechatronics engineering.

He said he is thrilled with his experience at COD.

 “Coming to COD through the CCI program has been one of the best things that could have happened in my life,” he said. “Everything has been fantastic. The services and resources that the students have available at COD, the diversity in the clubs and the diversity of the students is great.”

Featuring 16 students from 10 countries, this year’s CCI program participants are Rehab Abdelkhalek, Egypt (Management); Nathaniel Ahao, Kenya (Computer and Information Technology); Khadija Ali, Egypt, (Management); Muhammad Mirza Annas, Indonesia (Motion Picture/Television); Dahlia, Indonesia (Graphic Design); Jose Duran Del Rosario, Dominican Republic (Engineering/Mechatronics); Ugur Gecer, Turkey (Motion Picture/Television); Lebohang Khanye, South Africa (Tourism); Denny Villalobos Martinez, Colombia (Computer and Information Technology); Reneilwe Matlala, South Africa (Tourism); Rusli Puni, Indonesia (Tourism); Naledi Selemela, South Africa (Culinary Arts); Hery Siahaan, Indonesia (Tourism); Ohee Tahrim, Bangladesh (Photography); Evelyn Yankson, Ghana (Culinary Arts); Esther Zamble, Ivory Coast (Management).