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Shepherdstown couple hosts international students for Dinner with Strangers

ISSUED: 19 April 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — International students from Shepherd University were able to spend time with Shepherdstown residents during a recent Dinner with Strangers hosted by Leah and David Rampy. The Rampys had been guests at a previous Dinner with Strangers at the home of Marellen Aherne, and that inspired them to host their own dinner.

“We had such a good time together,” Leah Rampy said. “We loved hearing about the interests of the students, finding areas of overlap, and sharing our work experiences. For us, it seems like a lovely mix of learning from the students and offering whatever relevant wisdom we could.”

The Rampys see Dinner with Strangers as a way to keep up with what is happening with students today and to better understand the issues that concern them.

“It’s interesting to hear their stories,” Rampy said. “We hope that it’s a two-way street, that we can provide a listening ear, food, hospitality, and a warm welcome on behalf of the people of Shepherdstown.”

The Rampys invited Phil and Charlotte Baker-Shenk and Pam Neely to spend the evening with the five students, Frank Santiago-Cabrera, an English major from Naranjito, Puerto Rico; Valentina Preciado Bello, a business administration major from Bogota, Colombia; Abdoul Nasser Achirou Alassane, a business administration major from Niamey, Niger; Fadéla Belhaj, a data analytics and informational systems graduate student from Casablanca, Morocco; and Henry Navarrete Mendez, a computer information technology major from San Salvador, El Salvador.

“It was a great experience,” Alassane said. “We felt comfortable. They are nice. It was like we knew each other for a while. I like them and there were lot of positive vibes. The food was tasty. Grade A+.”

“Dinner with Strangers was a very rewarding experience, and I really enjoyed it,” Belhaj said. “Leah and David were extremely welcoming and opened their home to us. We had the opportunity to share our experiences in the United States with them and learn all about their international adventures as well. It certainly did not feel like a ‘dinner with strangers.’”

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