The Amazing Race: NJIT Celebrates International Education Week 

The Amazing Race: NJIT Celebrates International Education Week 

(Photos from Narella Vamshi)

NJIT is known for its diverse student body, with significant cultural diversity represented in its undergraduate and graduate populations. From Nov. 9–18, the Office of Student Life and the Office of Global Initiatives celebrated International Education Week by hosting the NJIT Amazing Race.  

This event kicked off on Wednesday, Nov. 9, when students were invited to form teams of up to three on Highlander Hub and collect a passport in the lobby of the Campus Center. The next week, numerous cultural organizations hosted events during which students could participate in an activity and learn more about the traditions, art, and cultural heritage of multiple countries.  

At every event that a team attended, it received a stamp in their passport, just as travelers visiting other countries get their travel documents stamped. Participants were also required to take a photo with the organizers of each event to prove their attendance. The teams that attended the most events were crowned winners, winning a basket of international sweets.  

The prize was awarded to two entries. Narella Vamshi, a first-year computer science graduate student, was one of the winners. The second winning team consisted of third-year biochemistry major Naira Orellana, third-year information technology major Jacklin Wey, and second-year mechanical and industrial engineering major Eric Liao.  

Vamshi encountered a booth set up for International Student Week and was interested in the intercultural aspect of the competition. He commented, “I was very excited to participate in different events and get stamps, organized by clubs that represented people from different parts of the world. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet with different people and learn about different cultures.” 

Orellana viewed the event as a way to continue her involvement on campus, stating, “You can always find me doing events on campus anyway, so I think it was just a week-long event that would reward me for going to events that I would have visited even without an incentive. I made a Discord group with my friends, and we posted the event page on there with the times and the stamp related to the event.” 

Both were interested in the box of chocolate from around the world that the winner would receive. For Orellana’s team, it was a motivation to enter the competition. Vamshi recalled, “I won a box full of chocolates and enjoyed eating those flavorful, unique, and delicious sweets with my friends. All my running during the race paid off!”  

The event was also a novel experience for the teams, during which they had the opportunity to meet student organizations including — but not limited to — Hillel, the Polish Students Association, the African Students Association, and the Association of Indian Students. The “Paint and Sip” event hosted by the African Students Association was a favorite; Vamshi commented, “I sketched a decent portrait using only paint brushes on canvas and at the end, it turned out to be pretty cool.”  

Orellana’s highlights included “Paint and Sip,” as she found the nighttime event very relaxing. “I also enjoyed learning new words at the Global Table because I learned a Hindi word for ‘thank you,’ which I wanted to test out with my friend,” she commented. This event was hosted by the Office for Global Initiatives.  

Vamshi expressed appreciation for the “Pierogies and Latkes” collaboration between Hillel and the Polish Students Association, where students could learn about various aspects of history, traditions, and popular foods. 

“The experience was pretty amazing,” he reflected. “Although I was playing solo without any teammates, I was the first one to turn in my passport.” Orellana’s team also greatly enjoyed the events, suggesting, “I would try to have events like the Global Table repeat, so everyone would have a fair chance to get the stamps.”  

In addition, she said that hosting some celebrations earlier in the day might make it easier for commuter students to attend. While most events took place before 5 p.m., the “Indian Culture Film” hosted by the Association of Indian Students and Hindu Youth for Unity, Virtues, and Action and “Paint and Sip” were both after 6:30 p.m.  

“Not everyone is on campus five days out of the week, so I recommend repetition of events because I believe more commuter students would have enjoyed the “Paint and Sip” if they didn’t have class or weren’t already home at that time,” Orellana commented.  

Nevertheless, both winners found the NJIT Amazing Race an enriching experience. 

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Mrunmayi Joshi

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