- Arlene Lazo – Communications Major
- Student worker at UCAELI
- Country: Ecuador
Being a UCAELI student worker, I had the opportunity to be part of the Conversation Partners Program. I was able to speak (virtually) with different students, learning about each other’s culture, getting to know each other, all while they benefit from enhancing their English speaking skills.
The main reason why I enjoyed the program so much was because I understood where they were coming from. I was in their shoes at one point and with the help of an ESL program that believed in me, helped me with my English throughout middle school. Although I had great teachers helping me, I wish I had a program like this one where students get paired with an English speaker. I still remember the first time I had a conversation with students, I told them that it was my first time being a conversation partner and wasn’t sure what to talk about. The students were so welcoming and friendly that they started the conversation first and asked me questions about how we celebrate holidays in the U.S. and the common traditions we have. It felt as if we already knew each other and we had such a good time talking, laughing, and enjoying conversations.
One day, there was a class topic where we all discussed common slang terms used in the U.S. This has to be the second most memorable conversation because the slang terms that were mentioned made me realize that phrases we use don’t make that much sense. So when someone is starting to learn a new language, things like that can mix them up a little. Another time, the students and conversation partners were asked to answer bizarre questions and think of responses that will avoid answering them. Questions like “can I borrow money?” “Do you talk to yourself?” After this activity, we were placed in small groups. We would all burst out laughing because of how bizarre the questions were and our opinions about them.
It was truly an incredible experience to be part of the Conversation Partners Program. Conversation Partners is normally held once a week for an hour every semester. But after that one hour, I felt that I started my day off on a good note, feeling more optimistic with a new outlook on life. It was very nice to see students progress from the beginning to the end of the semester.
Every semester, UCAELI hosts a closing ceremony to congratulate students and their accomplishments. I always try to attend because the smile on their faces after all of their hard work is being acknowledged and it gives me so much joy. I am always really proud of them!
I would definitely recommend volunteering for Conversation Partners through UCAELI. Please join if you have the chance! The students are wonderful and are very excited to meet new people!
For more information regarding Conversation Partners, please click here and to apply!
UCAELI’s Closing Ceremony
Snowflake and Garland Making Activity