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Campus Conversation Tables: Weekly gatherings help students make friends from around the world

Students+practice+their+language+skills+at+the+Spanish+table.+Photo+by+Ricardo+Hernandez+%2F+Antelope+Staff
Students practice their language skills at the Spanish table. Photo by Ricardo Hernandez / Antelope Staff

robyl@lopers.unk.edu

In the busy part of  UNK’s Nebraskan Student Union, there’s a lot of talking, laughing and learning going on. It’s Thursday evening, and the Conversation Tables are happening. For one hour, students from different backgrounds come together to chat, hang out, share their cultures and become friends.

The Campus Conversation Tables are a mix of ideas and languages. Students chat in small groups, and it’s a special time where they can learn and connect with others. Languages present at the tables include English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Arabic and German – just to name a few. Everyone is welcome at the tables, ensuring students can enjoy learning new languages with friends.

The event offers a chance to win food baskets from different countries each week. On Feb. 15, they gave away Korean baskets, and the week before, they gave out Russian baskets. Coming up, the Campus Conversation Tables have German baskets to raffle off. It’s a way to explore different cultures and try out international snacks. 

Sarah Huang, who is from China, likes talking at the Mandarin table. 

“It’s great for me to practice English and learn about American culture,” Huang said. “I also get to teach others about China, our traditions and our language.”

At another table, students chat in Spanish. Miguel Aguilar, who speaks Spanish, likes helping his friends practice. 

“We talk about everything – our lives and things from our cultures,” Aquilar said. “It’s like a mini journey to different parts of the world, right here in the Student Union.”

The Conversation Tables are not just for talking in different languages; they’re also a place where people can share their stories, customs and traditions from their home countries. 

Chris Jacobs manages the coordination of the conversation tables.

“All are welcome at the World Language Conversation Tables, regardless of UNK affiliation, language level, or language course enrollment,” Jacobs said. “Language course enrollment is neither required nor expected.”

As the hour ends, new friends exchange numbers and say they’ll meet again next time. The UNK Campus Conversation Tables create a small world where everyone is connected through language and shared experiences. Conversation tables show that through language and friendship, the world can feel like a smaller and friendlier place.

Photos by Ricardo Hernandez / Antelope Staff

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Lily Roby, Reporter
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