50 Years of Supporting Wellesley’s International Community

Students sit and chat inside Slater House.
Image credit: Amber Celletti
Author  Aidan Reid ’24
Published on 

Wellesley’s Slater International Center is marking its 50th anniversary March 9 with a celebration that will highlight International Women’s Day, which falls the day before. The event will “honor and celebrate our students, our scholars, our alumnae, faculty, staff, friends of Slater, and people who are just interested in the work that we do,” said Tana Ruegamer, director of the center. “We are really using this International Women’s Day to focus on the people who have been here throughout our history,” she said. All members of the community are welcomed and encouraged to attend.

The event will feature a dinner with student performances and alumnae speakers as well as an after-party at Slater House for friends and alumnae of Slater and current students, who are invited to “come together and be in community together,” Ruegamer said.

During the pandemic, Ruegamer and her colleagues provided crucial help for Wellesley’s international students and scholars as they navigated the changing rules surrounding travel and immigration. “International borders were closing, we were trying to keep up with travel bans, and it just went on and on,” she said. “Immigration regulations were changing on the fly. … People shared so many stories with us. Everyone was touched in really meaningful, very painful ways.”

Now that the closures are in the past, the Slater staff is looking toward the future. “This celebration is a time to actually take a pause and think about the next 50 years for Slater,” Ruegamer said. Slater is focused on how to offer what students and scholars need, and create a safe space for students interested in global affairs and international students.

“It is important that we talk about global factors that are impacting all of us, no matter what nation we are from, no matter what kind of a passport we carry,” Ruegamer said. “We know that (a passport) that’s often not really how people identify. It’s much more complicated than that.”

At the celebration, Ruegamer said, she is most looking forward to cheering on the student performers and meeting alumnae and the speakers. Xiaoning Ding, Slater’s program coordinator, is excited to meet the granddaughter of Priscilla Allen Slater, class of 1916, who established the Slater Center. “I find it so amazing that we can still see the legacy [through her family members],” said Ding.

“We really want to create this evening to reflect on the past, but also to be grounded right now in the moment together,” said Ruegamer. “I think that’s such an important piece of what we’re trying to achieve and what’s really been a big part of Slater in general—being there, even in the toughest and darkest moments.”