Students experience free trip around the world through Res Airways program

Eryn Gebacz

The Res Airways program takes students on a journey to different countries without even having to leave their residence halls.

 The program allows international students the opportunity to present their culture and ethnic foods to other domestic and international students in order to promote cultural awareness and help create new friendships.

Roberta Pereira, an international community assistant, runs this program and she strives to create and promote diversity throughout Kent State. Created last semester, Res Airways has featured seven different counties thus far.

Some of the countries that have been represented through this program are Brazil, India, England, South Korea, Indonesia and Japan.

“The people that come to the events get to know more about a country. It’s a step towards being culturally aware,” Pereira said.

The name Res Airways came to be as Eron Memaj, director of international student affairs, describes that Res Airways is supposed to portray an airline, while the residence halls portray the countries.

Memaj said, “Without having to leave the campus, students are able to travel the world one residence hall at a time and learn about different cultures through country spotlights.”

Through this program, international students can come out of their shells and speak about their culture, which they may have not had the opportunity to talk about before.

Ayaka Degawa, an undergraduate student originally from Rikkyo University in Japan, presented on Tokyo, Japan last semester. This is her second semester studying abroad at Kent State.

Her decision to present in front of a large group of people is surprising considering she did not have the easiest time originally adjusting to American culture.

“I was struggling with adjusting into this culture because the culture here is opposite of my culture. I was not willing to speak out in public. I had a big problem with discussing in class,” Degawa said.

She had various reasons why she decided to participate in this program, but a majority of them focused on the fact that she had never had an opportunity to share her culture before.

“I wanted to expose myself as much as possible because the two semesters are so limited, and I need to make use of my time,” she said.

She presented on the three most famous places to visit in Japan. She also spoke about topics she thought others would be interested in like Japanese animation, culture and food.

“I made that presentation especially for foreigners and for people especially interested in Japan,” Degawa said.

Degawa was shocked by the amount of students that showed up to listen to her presentation because she wasn’t aware of how popular her culture was to other students.

Res Airways events typically attract crowds of up to 50, with a mixture of domestic and international students in attendance. International students tend to be at the events more often, but it typically depends on the culture being presented.

Pereira encourages domestic and international students to participate and attend the events she has lined up for the rest of the semester.

The next event takes place on Tuesday in Koonce Hall. Pereira said she wants to keep encouraging students to embrace diversity at Kent State and make international students feel welcome.

“I want this program to keep happening when I leave the university. It’s good for international students to share their culture and be proud of it,” Pereira said.

Eryn Gebacz is the international students and issues reporters, contact her at [email protected].