If you think being trapped at home, worried about this pandemic, unsure about the future is stressful, imagine doing it in a foreign country. My students are troopers. We’ve trudged ahead and continued our classes via Zoom. Everyday before class I ask them how they’re feeling and if everything is okay. They’ve stayed very positive, but many are worried about how this quarantine will stifle their English acquisition. Fortunately there’s a great program hosted by MSU’s International Friend’s. We’re encouraging Americans to sign up to be a Virtual Friend to international students.
As a virtual friend, you can meet online at a time you schedule with the international student and help them practice English, play online games, have conversations or discuss a variety of topics.
“Everyone in our community is experiencing similar concerns during our current shelter-in-place. By partaking as a virtual friend, you will have someone to share your concerns, sharing fun activities and getting to know someone new. We are discovering that there are many things we can enjoy and share virtually such as discussing a book, learning about our local traditions, playing games, sharing music, even sharing a meal together.”
After signing up, both parties will receive an email from the director of International Friends with contact information. From the first email exchange between, you should share the preferred method of contact (Zoom, Facetime, etc.); and second, schedule time to chat.
There are many free programs available to choose from, whether it be: Microsoft Office Team (Windows), Zoom (iOS/Android/Windows), Skype (iOS/Android/Windows), Facetime (iOS) or WhatsApp (iOS, Android, Windows). Again, when using online video chat, you can share so much more, including the ability to continue improving language skills.
This is also a great program for anyone interested in learning a foreign language. I’ve done many conversation exchanges which have helped me tremendously with my Spanish and Arabic. So if you’ve got a solid internet connection and want to do something good for our international community, consider signing up!