Guest contributor: Jaymes Dunlap, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

The Conversation Partners Program (CPP) allows you to meet people in State College who are from different cultures, and helps you understand more about your partner and the country they are from. Sounds complicated, right? Actually, you are just one registration form away from finding your new partner and setting up a good meeting time. I have been involved in the CPP since July and have met four different people from Europe and Asia (not all at once — I started with just one partner). Some of them have since returned to their home countries but I am happy to say I still talk with the others.
So what’s different about a conversation with someone from another culture? You might have to talk about certain words, slang, grammar and pronunciation more than you might with your American friends. But other than that, it is no different than making new friend. In fact, in some cases, it is more fun when you talk about their culture and get a new perspective on things you’ve taken for granted!

All of the partners I have been matched with so far speak English fluently.  They usually want to understand our culture’s customs, practice English on an informal level (such as phrases like, “How’s it going?” instead of the more formal, “How are you today?”), and make friends here in America. I have never had a “bad” meeting, and we usually have a fun and exciting time talking about many different topics. On one occasion, my partner and I were almost late to our other meetings because we were having such a good time talking with each other!

Aside from being fun, I have learned a lot about their cultures while simultaneously teaching them about my own American culture, and I am even more encouraged to learn my partners’ native languages.

So, register with Global Connections, and make a new international friend! Just make sure you bring a pen and paper for your meetings, especially if you are trying to explain or understand the rules of American football. 😉

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“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:

“What! You too? I thought I was the only one!”

~~~ C. S. Lewis