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Conversing Across Cultures


By: Bridget Fletcher, Associate Director of Student Services

As a part of our overall commitment to cultural exchange, we’ve launched a conversation club this past term. Students from around the globe come together to talk about special topics each week. The club gives students and staff an opportunity to learn from each other and for some of our international students, it’s an opportunity to practice using English in a low pressure setting.

We focus on a particular topic or activity each week and students can sign up for topics that interest them. We had a great showing for our March Madness/Sports meeting. We talked about the format for the ACC and NCAA tournaments and learned about popular sports in other cultures including cricket, badminton, soccer, and my personal favorite, kabaddi (a popular sport in India featuring breath holding, tagging, and wresting). We also had a lively chat about popular culture and celebrities which turned into a fascinating discussion about who is famous and for what reasons in different places (FYI– the global audience doesn’t seem to understand the fame of the Kardashians either). Just this past week, we had a great discussion about travel. We began by listing all the countries we’ve visited and the top three countries we each most want to visit. It was a great way to get some insight on lots of really board picinteresting countries and to learn about some of the cool reasons people have visited places – work assignments, study abroad, vacations, cultural exchanges, roots explorations, etc.

For the final couple of conversation club meetings we’ll be forming small teams, building model rockets, and launching them. We’ll have a contest to judge which rockets look the coolest, which go highest, and which crack us up the most because of erratic flight paths. It should be a rally good time and a great way for students to make pleasant, low-pressure conversation while working toward a common goal.

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