Eastern Michigan University’s International Conversation Club returned due to popular student demand after taking a semester off. EMU’s International Student Resource Center (ISRC) hosts the International Conversation Club.
ISRC is a campus-based student and faculty run organization that is located on the second floor of King Hall. The ISRC bridges cultural gaps between international and domestic students.
The mission of the International Conversation Club is to alleviate the language barrier that many international students face. They achieve their mission through diverse tutoring, activities and intercultural events.
“This club is fun. I enjoy learning through different cultures and other people’s perspective. We have this small room that we decorated the best that we could and sometimes it gets too hot, but the best part about this room is it brings all these people from different cultures together. People from all around the world come together right here,” said David Christensen, 26, graduate assistant and TESOL major.
Each week a mixture of around 10 domestic and international students come together to converse. They talk about topics ranging from holidays, food, government, rule and law differences between countries, English slang, culture, travel and events at EMU.
“I like being with people and having a conversation. I showed up one day and I liked the conversation we had. I continue to learn about how different people react to different things,” said Jessica Pondell, 21, elementary education major.
International student Jiaxing Yang, 19, adapted the American name Peter willingly because he believes it is easier for Americans to pronounce and he doesn't feel like he is losing himself to help bridge the communication barrier. This demonstrates how the agency to develop understanding and come together works from both sides.
Domestic student Jessica Pondell, and international student Jiaxing “Peter” Yang bonded during the conversation when they discussed their shared love for K-pop music; a musical style that originated in South Korea. Yang also shared his love for American music.
“I joined this club to meet more international students. I wanted to meet some people that aren’t from America to find out what they think is funny, what they like to eat, how they dance and so on,” said Desmine Robinson, 18, psychology major.
Yang and fellow international student Droma Xiangqiuzhima shared how the biggest transition coming to America was the language barrier and listening and communicating with English speakers is what has helped them the most. Having an environment where people can come together to practice informally is very important.
International Conversation Club is held every Thursday throughout the semester.