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If you happened to walk through Mantor hall in the past few weeks, you may have noticed something unusual... read more

Small talk, big benefits: Conversation Tables help international students feel welcome
Kelli Walters
Antelope Staff
Photo by Kelli Walters
Lenore Yaeger, first year student affairs graduate student (left), Jihye Seo, exchange student from South Korea (middle) and Sohyun Kim, exchange student from South Korea (right) gather around a table to share stories about their culture. Conversation Tables are open to all students and held Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. in the student union.

Students scatter around to find a place at a table. Native English speakers look for an international student to join their table.

Conversation and laughter fill the union quickly on Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m.
International students laughingly tell about how much weight they have gained since arriving in America.

Cards are placed on the tables with topic ideas to get the partners started.

English speaking students gladly answer any questions that the international students may have about American culture.

Frequent questions asked are about the English language, how meanings vary and how to spell a word correctly.  Some international students even bring a translated dictionary with them if they need help understanding something such as the difference between dangerous and hazardous.

“At Conversation Tables, we learn from American culture, and we can show a little of our own,” said Cesar Mendoza Meza, a foreign exchange student from Velez, Colombia. Menza says talking to U.S. students allows learners of the English language to have better pronunciation and see English in a more friendly way— “because it’s not easy learning this language for us.”

International students share stories about the cultures of their countries.  “We have very busy schedules to follow at home—unlike here where we have lots of down time to do things such as taking a nap,” said Jihye Seo, a foreign exchange student from South Korea.

Conversations Tables are educational and fun for both international and interested U.S. students.

Lisa Terry, ELI educator and international education major, adds a fun twist at the end of the hour by drawing names for prizes for all students that attend. 

The international students cheer loudly as the names of their friends are called for a prize.

This program is a great way for all students to make new friends and learn more about a different country and culture.

Conversation Tables are open to all students.  There are two more Conversation Tables meetings left: March 4 and March 11.


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