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Conversation Partners

Conversation Partners Logo 1Conversation Partners, sponsored by the Office of International Education, matches international students with American partners in an effort to promote global awareness, multicultural interaction, diversity, and friendship.

This program is not available during the summer.

You can apply by filling out an application. If you have any questions, please contact Conversation-Partners@iup.edu.

If you are an international student, you might want to

  • Get to know more about American culture
  • Learn about IUP
  • Practice your English (if you do not speak English already)

American partners

  • Offer welcoming friendship leading to positive impressions of Americans
  • Get to know someone from an interesting culture
  • Learn about a new language

Enjoy Intercultural Opportunities!

International students leave behind their family, friends, and culture. Adjusting to a new environment is often difficult. As international students adjust to their new surroundings, communication may still be a major concern. If international students do not have a complete understanding of English, academic work may be difficult. A Conversation Partner will help international students communicate in English. Partners meet once per week so that communication will gradually become easier and more natural. Your partner may also help you to learn about the new culture in which you are living.

Getting to know people from another culture is an eye-opening experience. By learning about individuals from another culture, you learn to be a more accepting person with more worldly knowledge. Teaching and learning from each is mutually rewarding.

Share the best of your culture — yourself!

Activity Suggestions

  • Go shopping
  • Play sports or go to the gym
  • Do homework
  • Make a meal
  • Go out to eat
  • Go to a concert
  • Go for coffee
  • Go to a movie (talk about it afterward)

Conversation Topics

  • Culture (yours and theirs)
  • Family (share pictures)
  • Traveling
  • Holidays
  • Life in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and the U.S.A.
  • Your interests
  • Classes
  • Slang

Suggestions for International Students

Getting to know people from another culture is vital to your overall education experience. Try not to think of unique cultures as bad or good. Instead, think of cultural ideas as different. Learning about cultural differences will make you an interesting person. Remember:

  1. Take your time: If you feel nervous because you are still uncomfortable with the English language, take your time when developing your sentences and ideas. Remember that your partner is there to help you. Try using a different word to explain what you are trying to say, or spell it or draw it.
  2. Ask questions: American culture can be a big adjustment. If you see, hear about, or experience something that you do not understand, talk to your partner about it. Chances are, it is something that your partner is used to, being native to this country. Also, if there is something that you do not understand from class when reading or when writing, do not hesitate to ask your partner. He or she will be happy to help you.
  3. Teach them about your culture: Many American students find other cultures exciting. Feel free to share interesting aspects of your culture. If your partner is taking a class in a language you understand, offer to help them practice. It can be a privilege for both you and your partner to get first-hand experience about another culture.
  4. Have fun: Conversation is a great way to become a good listener and speaker in a variety of environments. Chatting with your partner enables you to improve your conversation skills. By speaking casually with your partner, you will become confident to speak in formal circumstances.
  5. Invitations: Invite your partner to eat with you at a restaurant, in the dining hall, or at your home (if you live off campus). Accept invitations and learn more about American culture and lifestyle. Positive interaction allows you to leave a good impression about your country.

Suggestions for American Partners

Getting to know people from another culture is vital to your overall educational experience. Try not to think of unique cultures as bad or good. Instead think of cultural ideas as different. Learning about cultural differences will make you an interesting person. Remember:

  1. Be an active listener: Sometimes international students may take time to create sentences and ideas if English is not their first language. Encourage international students with a nod, or repeat what they said to prompt them. If you don’t understand, don’t be embarrassed—just ask them to say it or write it down.
  2. Do they really understand? Make sure your partner understands what you're saying. Many times international students will nod their head, smile, or say “yes” when speaking with you. Sometimes this does not mean that they understand what you are saying, they are simply being polite. Clarify what you say by saying it in a different way or asking another question. If you use an idiomatic expression or slang, take the time to explain what it means to your partner.
  3. Learn about their culture: Exchanging cultural ideas facilitates conversation and helps international students learn about American life. Talking about buying a car, seeing a doctor, dating/marriage, manners, superstition, and other cultural specificities keeps the conversation rolling.
  4. Have fun: You will find that it is fun to learn from international students. In turn, they will have fun learning from you!
  5. Invitations: Most international students would love to learn more about American culture. Offer true American hospitality by inviting your international partner to do something fun. Share the cost. Make your partner feel welcome in the United States of America. The impression you make will spread around the world!
  • Office of International Education Conversation Partners
  • 920 Grant Street
    Delaney Hall, Suite B25
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2295
  • Office Number: 724-357-2295
  • Fax: 724-357-2514
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.