This post is written by Sharon
Xiangyou Shen, Program Coordinator at Global Connections, a community nonprofit
organization affiliated with the Pennsylvania State University and the Centre
Country United Way, with a long-standing tradition of promoting international
cultural exchange in Centre County.
Have you ever tried to muster the courage to talk to a "foreign" student or visiting scholar? Wanted to get invited to the Turkish party or Chinese New Year Dinner? Are you thinking about studying abroad and wondering if you can get a little cultural warm-up before you go? Or do you just want to learn about other cultures and meet people from different countries since they are here?
If your answer is a
"Yes" to any of the above questions, then take advantage of this great and
exciting opportunity by joining the Conversation Partners Program offered by
Global Connections. Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network has recently partnered with Global Connections aiming to promote this opportunity to a broad range of Liberal Arts students.
The experience typically takes on one of two formats:(1) One-on-one, in which one native or fluent English speaker is matched with one international speaker to meet regularly for language practice and cultural exchange. English is usually the primary language of communication. If the native English speaker has an interest in learning or practicing his/her partner's native language, they may use more meeting time to practice that language. In either case, this is a great opportunity for language practice as well as forming friendships.
(2) A small conversation group, in which one native English speaker, acting as the group facilitator, is matched with a small group (2-3 or larger at request) of international speakers from diverse backgrounds. People in small groups communicate in English. This format usually offers a greater chance of meeting new people and forming friendships. For native English speakers, this is also an excellent opportunity for leadership development. For international speakers, small conversation groups offer a friendly environment for practicing English conversation skills with lots of peer support. For both, it is a rich opportunity to learn about multiple cultures--imagine all the different stories, topics, and perspectives contributed by your diverse group members!\
In the past, a number of students from the College of the Liberal Arts have benefited from the Conversation Partners program. Particularly, many students, both undergraduates and graduate students, from Foreign Languages, Teaching English as a Second Language, and majors with an international dimension (e.g., International Studies, International Relations, and Asian Studies) have participated in the program. As the Penn State campus becomes increasingly diverse and our immediate/broader living environment becomes more globalized every day, every liberal arts student can benefit from such an experience! Join your fellow Liberal Arts majors, join students from other colleges at Penn State, join local community members, and join participants from all over the world; become a conversation partner!
You can participate in this program any time during the year!
No foreign language skills are required to participate.To get started, visit Global Connections' website www.global.psu.edu/gc to register. The registration will also offer you the opportunity to get involved in other popular programs offered at Global Connections, such as Women's Intercultural Book Groups, International Friendship Program, International Speakers Program, and other volunteering opportunities. For additional information about the Conversation Partners Program or other programs, please contact Global Connections at (814) 863-3927 or email email@example.com. You are also always welcome to stop by our office at 427 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802.