Robert and Leah Rubenstein

Robert and Leah Rubenstein

Robert and Leah Rubenstein became involved in The College of William and Mary’s Reves Center for International Studies shortly after their retirement to Williamsburg, VA. They signed up to be part of the Global Friends program, which matches international students with members of the community to foster cross-cultural friendships. Since their first connection, they have gone above and beyond the requirements of the program.

Global Friends are matched for an academic year, and the expectation is that community members will meet with their student once per month. However, Rob and Leah are one of the few members who chose to remain paired with all their students throughout the duration of their studies and beyond. They have also helped their students practice conversational English, review their school papers or resumes, and prepare for jobs by conducting mock interviews. They also arranged a summer internship for one of their students in the Beijing office of the firm from which Rob retired.

Students that have been matched with Rob and Leah not only benefit from establishing a connection with a local American family, but they get the added benefit of an in-depth connection, as Rob and Leah truly embraced their international students as part of their family, connecting them with their extended family, taking the students to concerts, athletic events, museums, and hosting the students in their home with family for the holidays. One of their students was preparing to spend last summer studying in Florence, Italy. Since they had a niece who lives there, they arranged for them to meet so that their international student would have a local contact in Italy for the summer.

Rob and Leah have also helped publicize the Reves Center programs and recruited friends and family to join the Global Friends program. They make time to attend many Reves Center events, even when their international students are unable to attend. They are always welcoming to new participants, and take the time to meet the international students, scholars and their families, having engaging conversations on a broad number of topics with the international community.

Unfortunately, Leah passed away on May 22, 2018, but she and Rob are incredibly deserving of this award, and it is an honor to be able to recognize their involvement in improving the lives of international students at William and Mary.

Excellence in Community Programming Awardees

Robert and Leah Rubenstein received the 2018 NAFSA Hugh M. Jenkins Award for Excellence in Community Programming