Over twenty domestic Saint Mary’s students have volunteered to be partnered with international Saint Mary’s students through the De La Salle Language Institute’s Conversation Partner program. The volunteers, freshmen through seniors majoring in a variety of subjects, have committed to meeting weekly with their international partners. The partners decide the time and location of these meetings. Partners often choose activities such as sharing a meal together or attending an on or off campus event; their choices are diverse. The goals of the Conversation Partner program include not only assisting with the development of international students’ English language abilities but also promoting cross-cultural understanding for all participants. Extending English language learning from the classroom into the international students’ extra-curricular lives and helping international students understand and adapt to U.S. culture are extremely valuable features of this program. At the same time, the program aims to provide all those involved with opportunities to see the world from differing perspectives – ultimately creating understanding, tolerance and new friendships.

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