Enjoying International Conversations
Connections Across Campus
“I learned a lot other than language from everyone’s previous experiences: about diverse culture, history and people of other countries.”
“By talking with friends in my speaking group, I learned a lot other than language from everyone’s previous experiences: about diverse culture, history and people of other countries. We also became good friends, and we share interesting things that happen in our lives with each other, which is a joy,” says Zhiyun Li, an environmental economics PhD student from Tianjin, China. “I would like to recommend this program to other students.”
The ELSO Speaking Groups Program, sponsored by the English Language Support Office, offers small weekly 1-hour discussions with international graduate students and scholars at Cornell. Each group is facilitated by a Cornellian who volunteers and completes an orientation process. Participants meet throughout eight weeks of a semester at a location of their choosing.
“I have made some new friends by sharing interesting topics and life stories.”
“The speaking group has been a good opportunity for us to discuss activities and experiences outside the classroom/lab, and also to take short trips to nearby areas like the Big Red Barn, Botanic Gardens, and Collegetown,” says Patrick Muljadi, a PhD student in biomedical engineering and a group facilitator.
“I have had great fun! I have made some new friends by sharing interesting topics and life stories,” says Li Cheng, a visiting scholar in applied economics and management, from China.
The international graduate students and scholars are from diverse programs, diverse linguistic backgrounds, and at diverse points in their academic pursuits.
“I made lots of friends and have come to know different cultures much better via the program.”
“The goal is to improve English speaking skills while making meaningful connections across campus.”
“I have attended the speaking program almost every semester when it is available,” says Lijie Tu, a physics graduate student from southern China. “For most graduate students, life is confined to the classroom, office/lab and home because we are very busy and usually know few people outside our discipline. I made lots of friends and have come to know different cultures much better via the program. Facilitators are extremely nice and helpful. All participants are curious and eager to learn. I love the program!”
The conversations are about culture, academic interests and campus life. Some groups define topics for discussion, while others just meet and talk informally.
“Our Speaking Groups Program is a great opportunity for integrating students, faculty, staff, and post-docs on campus in informal settings,” says Melissa Myers, lecturer and coordinator of speaking services in the English Language Support Office. “The goal is to improve English speaking skills while making meaningful connections across campus.”
This spring semester, there are 20 speaking groups with nearly 100 international student and scholar participants.