In an effort to encourage international students to branch out and acclimate, International Conversation Hour has extended to the summer months.
The program is designed for international students at Ball State to practice their English, learn about American culture, interact with domestic students and make friends.
The group meets Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in L.A. Pittenger Student Center room 306.
Pei-Yi Lin, a psychologist at the Counseling Center at BSU and founder of the ICH, started the program back in 2008 when she was an intern at the Counseling Center.
“At the beginning I tried a different format to see what works best both for international and domestic students,” Lin said. “The purpose of this program is to help new international students to feel more comfortable in a new place.”
Hadi Alyami, a graduate student from Saudi Arabia, said the only reason he came to the United States in the first place was because of the education and oppourtunities he could receive.
“In [ICH] I made a lot of friends and shared many interesting things with them and also practiced my English. That is how I learned my English, matter of fact,” Alyami said.
Abbas Jammali, a graduate student in physics from Iraq, said although he misses his family, attending the ICH helps him feel he has found his family away from home.
“I encourage all students to take advantage of this program,” Jammali said.
Luke Bonvillian, an international business major, attends the ICH on a regular basis.
“We always see international students immersing themselves into our culture, but I was always curious what it feels like to be somewhere where everything is just new to you,” Bonvillian said.
Participants share stories about their culture, country and why they came to Ball State.
The program is a way American students can learn a lot about other countries and cultures, Lin said.
“International students have a lot to offer to Ball State,” she said.
Lin said she faced a lot of challenges by coming to study in the U.S. from Taiwan.
“I know how difficult it can be. Language, friendship, culture, food — that is why I created [ICH] and we work to help international students to belong to our campus and count their voice,” Lin said.