"Williams inspired me to go forward by supporting and encouraging me. We built a friendship.”
Before joining the RCC faculty in 1999, Humanities instructor Rick Williams taught at Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods.
“At RCC I most enjoy my diverse students and colleagues,” Williams said. “And I appreciate having the freedom to teach a variety of classes.”
He holds a bachelor’s in International Relations from California State University-Northridge and earned his master’s in Literature and Writing at Humboldt State University. Williams also completed a postgraduate certificate in World Religions from University of Wales, Lampeter.
Soon after Bill Clinton visited Rogue Community College last spring, Flamur Vehapi received a letter from the former President.
Vehapi, an RCC graduate now studying at Southern Oregon University, attended a political rally on the Redwood Campus at which Clinton stumped for his wife, then-Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Vehapi talked to the former president and personally thanked him for intervening in the ethnic violence that ravaged his Albanian homeland and drove his family into exile.
“Your support for my efforts to protect the people of Kosovo means a great deal to me,” Clinton wrote. “You can be proud of the courage you've shown in facing great challenges and in the things that you have accomplished. I'm inspired by your strength and commitment to make a difference in the world.”
Vehapi is studying psychology with minors in history and international studies. His goal is to work in the field of conflict resolution.
“I want to work in hotspots where people need help,” he said. It’s a subject he knows all too well. When Vehapi was 15, ethnic warfare pitted Serbians against Kosovar Albanians. His family’s home was destroyed. Forced to flee, they lost everything. After stays in refugee camps in Macedonia, Italy and Switzerland, they returned to their homeland several years later.
Proficient in English, Turkish, Italian, German, Serbian, and French, Vehapi served as translator for missionaries from Rogue Valley. One family invited him to live with them and attend RCC.
“To come to America was my dream,” he recalled. “American education is very valued in my homeland.” Now 25, Vehapi first arrived at RCC in 2005.
”My goal was to just get the basics out of the way and transfer to SOU,” he recalled. “But I realized RCC was the place for me. I was lost and not sure what I was doing. RCC helped me grow, overcome language barriers, and I’m very thankful.” For example, in his homeland reading was limited to socialist writers. RCC literature classes exposed him to literature from all over the world. “This was important because I had no idea what writers in Asia were creating or that they even existed. I was very impressed, very happy.”
He credits RCC Humanities instructor Rick Williams with helping him gain an understanding of world literature. “We would talk after class,” Vehapi said. “The beauty of RCC is that teachers are always there for you. (Williams) inspired me to go forward by supporting and encouraging me. We built a friendship.”
Williams urged Vehapi to complete his first book in English, “The Alchemy of Mind.” (He’s published another in Albanian.) The book mixes events from his life story with religion, philosophy, poetry and literature. “It’s filled with a tremendous hopefulness for all humankind,” Williams said.
Vehapi, who served in student government and worked in the Diversity Center, while attending RCC, is grateful to the instructors who helped him move forward.
“RCC is a great place to start your education and achieve your goals,” he said. “RCC strengthened my educational base and gave me a stable foundation to move on to a four-year university.”
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