Language Partners Program Helps International Students


Lauren Petterson – MUTV 23 New Staff Writer

MU’s Language Partners Program pairs up students to work on their language skills together and form lasting friendships. Language Partners participants ate food from foreign countries and talked with each other at their Cross-Cultural Connections event on Tuesday, April 8, 2015 in the Multicultural Center.

After participating in an icebreaker and trying different food, participants broke up in to groups and talked about a variety of topics, including their studies at MU and different cultural traditions that their countries have.

One of the Co-Coordinators for Language Partners, Megan Matheny, said that eating international meals together is a great way for students to converse with one another. Matheny says that she enjoys coordinating the Language Partners Program, but she also states that she has to be understanding of students’ cultural traditions.

“It’s a lot of fun, but it can also be kind of difficult sometimes because you have to be aware that, like, some things that might be acceptable in like American culture isn’t necessarily acceptable in other cultures,” Matheny said.

The Language Partners Program helps international students to overcome difficulties that they may face while helping them become integrated in to the MU community. While the program can be helpful to non-native English speakers, Matheny says that native English speakers can also advance their cultural comprehension by participating the program.

“It’s not just beneficial for the international student, it’s really beneficial for like a Mizzou student, you know, that’s maybe not an international student.”

One of the positive outcomes that Language Partners participants say they have experienced is gaining an understanding of other cultures. Alison Bonner and Yijie Ren, who are each other’s language partners, have taken their partnership beyond Language Partners events and have gone on outings together for fun.

“The partnership isn’t only just in school, it’s become a friendship where we can hang out outside of campus,” Bonner said. “We can all find a common thread within our different cultures.”

Ren explained that she was not sure if she would be able to hit it off with her partner before meeting her, but this fear was quickly resolved.

“The first time meeting is really special for me because I’m not sure (what type of person) she will be… When I saw her, I thought ‘Oh god, she’s really an angel,’” Ren said.
Ren says that her friendship with Bonner is so strong that she hopes to be able to travel with her one day.

Organizers encourage both native and non-native speakers to join the Language Partners program so that they can learn more about cultures from around the world. The Language Partners program will begin accepting applications for the 2015-2016 school year in the fall.

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