Conversation Partner Program builds cultural awareness and new friendships

Eryn Gebacz

The Conversation Partner Program “Meet and Greet” event Thursday brought Kent State international students and their domestic conversation partners together to start the spring semester.

This program matches a domestic Kent State student with an international student and helps create mutually beneficial friendships. The conversation partners were able to meet together in the Clark Glass Lounge in Clark Hall to play ice-breaker games, eat food and catch-up.

There currently are 110 international and domestic student pairs in the program.

Eron Memaj, director of international student affairs, describes the main purpose of the program as developing relationships, intercultural dialogue and cultural exchange.

“This program is secondarily focused on helping international students with their verbal communication skills,” Memaj said.

Partners are paired by Memaj early in the fall semester and they meet with each other throughout the semester depending on their personal schedules. Memaj describes the relationships as being mutually beneficial because the international and domestic students have the benefit of being exposed to different cultures.

“This is a great program that exposes domestic students to a new world, cultures and it’s a good way to connect the world,” Memaj said.

Megan O’Neill, junior sociology major, joined the Conversation Partner Program to broaden her perspective. She said she wanted to understand someone different from her, on a more personal level.

“My partner and I have a lot to talk about, and we are able to relate to each other. Language isn’t really a barrier,” O’Neill said.

Marek Wolski, freshman construction management major, said he came to Kent State from Poland and joined the Conversations Partner Program to meet new people since he knew no one here. He said he was really interested in what the program had to offer.

“I was able to meet with my partner a couple of times throughout the semester and with my friend’s partner, which was a cool experience,” Wolski said.

International and domestic students interested in applying to become a conversation partner and learning about the Conversation Partner Program can find out more information on the Division of Student Affairs website.

Eryn Gebacz is an international reporter, contact her at [email protected].