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Students Learn There's More to Jersey than Cities, Shore

By: Joe Carlson/The NJ Herald
08/11/2014, 12:05 PM

BYRAM -- When people think of New Jersey they typically think two things: that everyone is just like the cast of the MTV show "Jersey Shore" and that the state is basically New York City.
 
Those were the same stereotypes that 70 scholars representing 40 different countries believed before they arrived at Centenary College as part of the Fulbright Gateway Orientation hosted by the Hackettstown-based college.

"I know now that New York and New Jersey are different states," said Serghei Toncu, 29, of Moldova, with a laugh. Toncu is a business major who will be attending the University of Minnesota in the fall.

Toncu admitted that when he thought of New Jersey, he thought of a more urban and industrialized area, not the rural area of Sussex and Warren counties.

On Thursday, the visiting students toured the historic village and got hands-on experience on how to live like a Native American while visiting the Lenni Lenape village, run by Winnakung at Waterloo.

"It is so interesting because they can see the long history the area has," said Nancy Paffendorf, Centenary College dean for community and college affairs, as to why she chose to bring the Fulbright scholars to Waterloo. Thursday marked the third year the college brought the scholars to Waterloo.

At Waterloo, students were given the opportunity to use a bow and drill to simulate starting fire, sculpt clay into pinch pots, and throw ears of corn through a ring into a basket to simulate hunting with a spear, in order to learn how the Lenni Lenape lived.

They were also taught about the Lenape language, growing fruits and vegetables and the medicine the natives used to rid themselves of illness.

"It's impressive how much you invest in the understanding of history and culture," said Olya Bakina, a 23-year-old biomedical science major from Ukraine, who will be attending Florida Atlantic University. "In Ukraine, museums are pretty common, but not interactive like this."

Each Fulbright student is attending a U.S. college in the fall. Thursday's activities at Waterloo Village were part of the Fulbright Gateway Orientation held all week, primarily at Centenary College, featuring interactive workshops on topics such as handling culture shock and understanding U.S. academic culture and political life.

The goal was for the students to develop a better awareness of the United States and their leadership role as Fulbright scholars.

Fulbright scholars are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential. They are given the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns, according to the program's website.

In addition to visiting Waterloo, scholars were given presentations on U.S. politics and people; adjusting to U.S. culture and avoiding culture shock; and understanding U.S. academic culture.

The students also visited a historical site in Bethlehem, Pa., taking the Steel Stacks Historic Tour at the former Bethlehem Steel Corp., Wednesday night.
While all of the students left Centenary and embarked on their educational journey as of Friday, Toncu said because of facilities such as Waterloo, the journey never stops.

"Facilities like this are important to facilitate the education and help people understand the evolution of man and where we came from," he said.