The main thing international students like about this event is being given an opportunity to practice their English.
Jim Ma (left) performs the drumroll while names are drawn for prizes at Conversation Tables. Each week prizes are given out to everyone who attends the Campus Conversation Tables.
With anywhere from 150 to 165 students and some faculty as well, this is no lame event. The participants flood the food court in the student union eager to practice their English and make new friends.
The event started as a way to help a few international students practice their English. Today, it helps international students practice their English as well as helps UNK students of all kinds to make long-lasting friendships.
The Campus Conversation Tables are designed to help students realize that no matter how different a culture is, all people have similarities.
Jim Ma is an English language institute major from China and finds the Campus Conversation Tables to be very helpful.
“You can study the English language out of a textbook all day, but it takes native English speaking students to show you how people actually use the language,” Ma said.
With the slang that students use, it’s even hard for faculty to keep up. So how hard could it be for an international student to learn?
“The first time I heard someone use the phrase, ‘What’s up man,’ I had no idea what he was saying to me,” Ma said. “Then a student finally explained it to me and I thought to myself, ‘That is nowhere in my textbook.’”
Ma has used the Conversation Tables to make new friends and to get over the culture shock he felt at one time.
“This event also helped me to better understand the use of body language that Americans use,” Ma said. “I have learned to use body language since I have moved to the United States, which at first was real different to me because in China people don’t express themselves in such a way.”
The main thing international students like about the event is practicing their English, because in class all they do is write or answer a question to a teacher.
There aren’t that many chances to talk to the other UNK students.
Lisa Terry, an English language institute educator, loves that the Campus Conversation Tables is growing in size every year.
“I admire the international students so much, because it takes a lot of guts to leave your country which is a comfort zone,” Terry said. “It’s one thing to go to another country and wonder how you will order food or how you will get a hotel room, but it’s another thing to say I am going to get my higher education in another country.”
Terry wants the Campus Conversation Tables to be a student-run event so the students feel more comfortable. She loves to see people taking pictures and exchanging phone numbers— which are often the start of new friendships.
“I set the event up not only for the international students, but for all other people as well,” Terry said. “This is a great place for people to learn from one another, and the making friends part comes naturally.”
The Campus Conversation Tables take place every semester for six weeks on Thursdays from 4-5 p.m. This semester there are only three weeks left.