Global Connections connects international students across language barrier

Taylor Meade

Global Connections, formerly known as Conversation Partners, is continuing to help international students with their English proficiency through mentoring with domestic students.

Global Connections director Anuttra Promnart said she wants the program to help international students focus on everyday life skills, rather than focus on an academic area. 

“I’m also an international student, and English back home is super formal,” Promnart said. “They (international students) never get a chance to speak with native English speakers, so this will help them with conversing.”

Promnart said Global Connections had a matching social on Jan. 30 where she gave an overview of the program and domestic and international students could pair up to plan conversations and meetings to help with English proficiency in the future.

The program used to have one domestic and one international student work together, but there was never enough domestic students who volunteered, Promnart said. 

“We changed it to a group so we can match them better,” Promnart said. “This is my last semester, (with this program) and I wanted to do something totally different.”

Global Connections is a voluntary program for international students, but some professors use it in their course curriculum, Promnart said. 

Maureen Blankemeyer, associate professor of lifespan development and educational sciences, said she used this program in her Family Life Education course.

Blankemeyer said her domestic students paired up with one or more international student and developed a presentation about what they learned about their partners’ countries from research and mentoring through the program. 

This presentation helped students learn about the differences of dating and parenting in their partners’ countries, Blankemeyer said. 

“It (the program) gets students exposed to different cultures, broadens their perspectives and prepares them for when they go out into the workplace,” Blankemeyer said. 

Whether it is as soon as they graduate and get a job, or years down the road, students will be affected by our increasingly internationalized society, Blankemeyer said. 

Mei-Chen Lin, associate professor of communication studies, said her domestic students are often homogeneous and never have had outlets to get to know international students better. She uses Global Connections in her global diversity class, Intercultural Communication. 

Lin said she has the pairs meet up three times during the semester for different time lengths to get to know their partners better and then has them write a reflection paper on their experiences. 

Students are sometimes anxious and have a lot of uncertainties when first starting this assignment, Lin said.

“Most students find a lot of commonalities with these internal students,” Lin said. “They genuinely enjoy the process itself.” 

The purpose of the program is for international students to interact with domestic students while practicing English and establishing social support, Lin said.

Promnart said although the program has mostly student participation, anyone from Kent State can become involved.


Contact Anuttra Promnart at [email protected].