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International Students Learn Language and People Skills at Mercer Conference Center


West Windsor, N.J.– Tamsir Ba came to the United States from Senegal almost a year ago, and began his studies by taking English as a Second Language classes to prepare him for college work. He joined the serving staff at the Conference Center at Mercer and says that working there has had the unanticipated benefit of providing him supplemental instruction in English.

“When I started at the Conference Center, English was a new language to me,” Ba said. “Working and spending time with the other employees has really helped me. You learn to adapt and communicate as you work together to get things done.”

A Political Science major, Ba said he is focused on finishing his degree and making connections with an American organization interested in furthering global democracy. His dream is to launch a democracy project in his home nation.

Tamsir Ba, left, and Elin Fidele at work in the MCCC Conference Center

Ba’s co-worker Elin Fidele, a sophomore Digital Media Arts major who comes from Haiti, has worked at the Conference Center for two years.  He agrees with Ba that his work has led to vastly improved communication skills as he has learned to interact with guests and co-workers.

“I didn’t like to talk a lot at first,” Fidele said, recalling his early experiences. “Now, I’m really open to meeting and talking to new people. In two years, I have grown and learned a lot.”

According to Conference Center General Manager Frank DiBella, the employment program with international students has been going on for years and has worked out great for all concerned. 

“The program allows students to get culturally rooted here and gives them a chance to earn money while improving their English skills and people skills," DiBella observed.  " And, the Conference Center has a steady pool of students who are eager to provide excellent service to our customers.”

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