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International conversation hour: “A little mini study abroad program”

Every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7 p.m., students from many different backgrounds gather in Jefferson 160 for International Conversation Hour, hosted by the Ohio Program of Intensive English, or OPIE. Through this program, students from the U.S. and international students come to converse and learn about different cultures, traditions and languages from one another. 

Students are given an array of questions from a topic each week that conversations can be themed around, but aren’t limited to discussing them. At the end of the hour, the whole room engages in themed trivia with prizes. 

“I think some people think it’s just an English program for international students, and it’s much more than that,” Gerry Krzic, the director of the OPIE program, said. “It’s really intercultural programming for students from outside the United States and for domestic students.”

Krzic said OPIE dates back to 1967, and he has worked with them for a while. He said he’s also been a part of the Chubu program for nearly 30 years since its beginning in 1994, an English program for Japanese students where they get to come to events like International Conversation Hour and take field trips. 

Yu Tazaki, a graduate student with a first-year student in master's in Applied Linguistics, said he is a part of the Chubu program.

“I really like learning English,” Tazaki said. “I don’t know why, but somehow I came to like learning English and I always try to think about some good methods to improve my English.”

International Conversation Hour has helped Tazaki feel more comfortable with his English and meet more friends both who speak Japanese and speak English.

Eunice Prasojo, a senior studying nutrition sciences, an international student from Indonesia and also the Chubu exchange program assistant, helps to run International Conversation Hour. Prasojo said being involved with the program has grown her love for it.

“It’s just a place for anyone and everyone to hang out in the international community,” Prasojo said.

Prasojo said the opportunities present at International Conversation Hour are endless, with such an open-ended way of conversing with one another and fun and engaging trivia at the end of the hour, there’s something for everyone there.

“It’s almost a way to take a little mini study abroad program,” said Krzic. “If you don’t have the time or the funds to go study abroad, you can still have an international experience coming here.”


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