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Food fair showcases Rockford College diversity

Saturday, March 27, 2010  
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By Matt Williams
Posted Mar 27, 2010 @ 10:03 PM
Last update Mar 28, 2010 @ 10:08 PM

The English Language Institute at Rockford College puts its international students through quite an intensive program.

Mariana Rosas came to Rockford College three years ago knowing little English, but spent endless hours studying reading, writing and grammar.

For Rosas, who is trying to earn her undergraduate degree at the college, it was her turn Saturday to share some of her Mexican culture.

The school’s Multicultural Club, which Rosas serves as president, hosted its International Food Fair, showcasing dishes from 12 countries.

"It is really nice to be able to share some of your cultural knowledge with other people,” Rosas said.

International dishes served at the fair included food from Korea, India, Ecuador and Rosas’ recipe of chilaquiles verdes — tortillas layered with green salsa.

There are two types of international students at Rockford College, ELI Director Christina Valiquette said.

"A lot of these current students have family or friends who live in Rockford,” Valiquette said. "The other set just come to the college because it’s a good academic school.”

ELI has been at Rockford since 1986 and typically averages between 10 and 15 students at a time, Valiquette said.

Rosas said having other students from around the world makes it easier for her to adjust to living away from home.

"It is nice to find that some other people are homesick sometimes,” she said. "You make a lot of friendships.”

Rosas said she could make Rockford her home when she graduates.

She plans to get her master’s degree and someday teach Spanish, possibly at Rockford College.

"The town has been so welcoming, and so many people have been nice to me,” she said. "This has become like a second home.”

Reach staff writer Matt Williams at or 815-987-1389.

This story appeared at on March 27, 2010.

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