Kent State University Library’s Writing Commons has revamped the International Conversation Hour program to be more casual and inclusive.
International Conversation Hour are get-togethers for international students to be able to come and interact with native English speakers.
Melissa Henry, coordinator of International Conversation Hour, believes that the changes to the program will make for a more relaxed atmosphere.
“It’s a more defined space, which makes some of the international students more comfortable because they come to the fourth floor and wonder where it is because we used to float around,” Henry said. “This has always kind of been the Writing Commons space, but we’re working on amending the floor plan so we can have comfortable furniture to encourage conversation in that corner.”
Abdi Gudina, a public health graduate student from Ethiopia, has attended two sessions this semester. Gudina said that he has enjoyed International Conversation Hour, and he attends to become more fluent in English.
“I want to be a professor sometime in the future, (but) my English is not enough for me to be a professor right now,” Gudina said. “I want to improve my English so that I (can) communicate smoothly with my students.”
The regular sessions and established space has helped bring in more international students. Alair Boshela, a junior fashion merchandising major and the marketing coordinator for International Conversation Hour, believes that the casual format helps international students feel free to engage and ask questions.
Boshela also facilitates sessions. She recounted her most memorable one in which a Saudi Arabian student asked her what “I gotcha” meant after she replied as such.
“We just started talking all about idioms and shortening of words or slang that we use. The best thing though was that her husband actually came half way through the session and started taking notes on sticky notes. It was so exciting that they were that excited,” Boshela said. “It was so organic. It didn’t feel forced; Nothing felt artificial, and they were just so willing to learn more.”
The event is offered four times a week on the fourth floor of the library. It runs weekly on Mondays from 3-4 p.m., Tuesdays from 2-3 p.m., Wednesdays from 1-2 p.m. and Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. in the study area in front of the Writing Commons. Students of all backgrounds are invited to attend and participate.
Contact Gael Reyes at [email protected]