As an international student from Egypyt, Ramah Aleryan ’20 has made contributions to many of The Colorado College Butler Center initiatives, one being her establishment of Voices Across Borders. She’s also involved in the CC Refugee Alliance and is organizing Drinks of the World this year. This week, The Catalyst sat down with Aleryan to discuss her international student perspective and her pursuit of passion and planning.
The Catalyst: WHAT ARE YOU INVOLVED IN ON CAMPUS?
Ramah Aleryan: So, I’m an international student and I work in The Butler Center. I’ve been working at the Butler Center for like three years now—since sophomore year—so this is my third year. So I’ve been really involved in all that The Butler Center does because of my work, which I really enjoy. But I’m also really involved in international student initiatives. I started Voices Across Borders as an event with The Butler Center to have a space for international students to voice their concerns or talk about a topic that they found important and they’re not talking about. I was also very involved in CC Refugee Alliance. I was part of the board to do ESL, like, to teach English to refugees. And I’ve been volunteering with some refugees in town. Yeah, those are the two main things that I’ve been working on.
TC: WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO DO THOSE THINGS?
RA: I’m very social justice oriented. That’s why I’m a sociology major, I guess. And I care a lot about inequalities in societies and trying to fix it and do things. But also I try to be careful about my positionality and not all populations I can help and trying to know my limitations in that. So like, I found the two populations that I care about the most is international students because I’m part of them, so I’m trying to make the campus more habitable for them; and refugees who are Arabic speakers that I can help. Because I’m an Arabic speaker too, I can help them speak English better. I think the bigger thing about your question is I’m really concerned to make spaces habitable for people.
TC: YOU HAVE TO WEAR A T-SHIRT WITH ONE WORD ON IT FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. WHAT WORD WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
RA: Oh man, there’s so many. But one word? Feisty.
TC: WHICH EGYPTIAN FOOD DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
RA: I miss our falafel. This is controversial, but our falafel is the best. And I can’t find it here; it’s not the same. Yeah, I really miss our falafel. It’s just really different from the one that’s in Middle Eastern restaurants here.
TC: HOW DOES YOUR ITNERNATIONAL BACKGORUND IMPACT YOUR PERSPECTIVE OF COLORADO COLLEGE?
RA: Man, it’s hard. I mean, it was a journey being at CC. I feel, because a lot of international students have been traveling so much — and I’ve been traveling so much — I care a lot about the world in general. So it kind of shook me that people here really care about the U.S. and really care about, like, their town and state, like, it’s very localized here. So I feel like I am more, like, “Okay, what’s happening in the world,” you know? So it was really hard for me to get used to the conversations here and what people care about. Because it’s the U.S., at end of the day, but still, I feel like the U.S. is a little bit isolated. So is Colorado College. And it’s mostly white, rich people, so it was isolated even more. So that was hard, you know. But I think I’m learning a lot. Like, I’m really learning a lot and I’m finding mentors and people that care about me and support me across the journey.
TC: WHAT GOES INTO PLANNING DRINKS OF THE WORLD, AND WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THAT?
RA: Man, that’s such a good question. What goes into planning Drinks of the World, dude, there’s so many things, so many things. So, I think the biggest two things is the date — when were going to do — and the house, because we are going to wreck that house, man. So, thinking, like, “Which house are we gonna wreck next?” So, I think it’s a lot of team planning and a lot of making people care about, like, coming after the event and cleaning and stuff. But I think our goals for this year are to make the music good and to have good speakers for everybody to actually dance because this is our international student culture. And we’re trying — this is like a secret — but we’re trying to make less than 10 drinks so we have more quality drinks. Yeah, and get more food for you guys. It’s going to be awesome.
TC: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE SOCIOLOGY DEPARTMENT?
RA: Yeah. I think my favorite thing about the sociology department here is that they really care about inequality. So that’s the focus of every class. Whatever the topic of class is, it’s just, like, who’s marginalized, who’s not seen, who’s not equal, who is not benefiting from the system. So I really like the activism approach that they have here. And the new hire is great. It’s just a great addition to Latina activism. And just like, really, really, working hard to make sure academia goes into social change and activism. So that’s, I think, why I initially joined the sociology major.
TC: WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE IN EGYPT?
RA: My favorite place is definitely Sinai and the Red Sea. It’s so amazing. It’s just, the desert by the sea is just such a great contrast and such a spiritual place. It’s a really hippy place, too. I like it.
TC: WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE ON CAMPUS OR IN THE SPRINGS?
RA: I discovered, sophomore year, that trail that’s behind, I don’t know what it’s called. But like, that trail that goes beside the creek, the Tiger Trail. That’s really cool. And I discovered it sophomore year, so I think that’s one of my favorite places on campus.
TC: WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH THE MOST?
RA: What makes me laugh the most? Dude, memes. They make me, like, just die. I’m like, “How did you think of that?” Funny enough, like, I see the same memes in Arabic and in English on Facebook, but it’s just that they’re about different topics. So it’s interesting like it’s just different, especially about, like, how stressful life is and somebody’s just, like, laughing at school. Like, student memes are so funny — like trying to wake up in the morning or something like that. It’s just really funny.