Article by Ashton Horne | Photography by Jennifer Lewis | Owl Staff

Goran Radulovich was a former rapper in Slovenia who found success with his single “Stara Ulica” and earned his Associate’s Degree in Audio Engineering and Massage Therapy back home. You might wonder how he ended up at Harford – his sister lives in Bel Air, which led Goran to start school here about a year ago.

Ben Rushby, a General Studies major, came from Derby in Central England on a scholarship to play for the Fighting Owls soccer team. Head coach Jason Muffoletto contacted College Prospects of America, a sports marketing service for high school athletes entering college, and found his profile.

Goran and Ben are just two of many international students who are living the American dream right here at HCC. In celebration of the diversity these students bring to HCC, international flags were added to the campus in 2001, the brainchild of Dr. Claudia Chiesi, a former HCC president.

The flags change each year to reflect the growth of our diverse campus community. Currently, 48 banners align from the main entrance of the library all the way to the front doors of the Student Center and along the academic halls by the quad.

Cameroon, Iran, Belgium, Romania, Netherlands, Nepal, and Russia are just a handful of the nation’s international students represent. Gregory Deals, the Associate Vice President for Campus Operations, says that since there are more students represented than the flagpoles, he makes “decisions of what flags to put up based on the country’s population.”

For international students, the flags also represent a connection to their home. “Every time I see the German flag, it reminds me of one of the best experiences of my life,” says Yasmeen Ali, a Software Engineering major.

“There may be 48 flags on campus to represent international students, but each flag holds a different story that goes far beyond HCC.”

Yasmeen lived in Germany for three years when she was 12. At 16, she came to Maryland because her dad was in the military. In Germany, “everyone was friendly, and the place I lived at was very clean. Food was always made fresh and there was barely any processed food. This county was not as diverse as where I lived in Germany, but I still think it’s diverse.”

Arren Gapasin moved to the States in 2006 from the Philippines. She says, “At first it was a culture shock; the weather was much colder than in the Philippines. I wasn’t used to the diversity either. Since then, I have adjusted, but I really miss my family, friends, and the food.”

“My experience has been good; I have had a lot of help [at HCC],” says Ben Rushby. The biggest difference between the U.S and U.K he has seen is the playing style for soccer and the restaurants. “The style of play in the U.K is a lot more physical. Here the officiating is strict, and you can’t get away with as much.”

Ben continues, “As far as restaurants go, I noticed here there are a lot more fast-food places you can choose from and go to. Back at home while we still have fast places such as McDonalds, it’s not nearly as much; it’s more of the classier [dine-in] restaurants to pick.”

Goran Radulovich cites educational differences between the U.S. and his home country. “In Slovenia, school was much harder; you had less help from teachers because most of them had multiple subjects to teach. Learning here is much easier. You have more assistance.” Adds Goran, “I like the flags on campus and what they represent.”

Admission specialist Jenny Lares works in the school’s international program. Her job is to review foreign students and coordinate campus visits. Gazing at her world map, she says, “Diversity is something we shouldn’t celebrate once a week. We should celebrate it every day and include it in every issue or have it be a part of the development of each issue.”

There may be 48 flags on campus to represent international students, but each flag holds a unique and special story that goes far beyond HCC and truly makes this a campus united.

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