This Summer, Luminus launched a new English Conversation Partners Program to facilitate English acquisition for our Afghan neighbors. Interested individuals were paired with volunteers over the span of eight weeks to help improve their practical conversation skills. We had a total of 13 pairs and many of the participants were Afghans along with other New Americans.
An initial training was conducted for all the volunteers which outlined some of the guidelines of the program including being mindful of people’s boundaries when it comes to discussing certain topics such as past experiences, cultures, religions, or politics. More importantly, we discussed the importance of being flexible and patient with the participants as many of them only had a fundamental understanding of English. Because the participants’ level of English varied, the curriculum included conversation topics and activities for different proficiency levels.
To kick off the program, we held an ice cream social on right outside the Luminus office to introduce the participants to their English conversation partners. The pairs did an ice breaker activity to get know each other better and discuss the logistics of the upcoming weeks such as where to meet, how often to meet, and topics of interest for participants and volunteers. Everyone was able to enjoy ice cream while getting to know their partners and lemon sorbet was a favorite among the Afghans!
Volunteers met with their partners on a weekly basis and had the flexibility of deciding where to meet. Some pairs chose to meet outside at a park, go grocery shopping, cook together, or visit a library. This was a wonderful mutually beneficial opportunity; our volunteers were able to interact directly with families and learn from them and their experiences while the families were able to receive the attentive support and care they need.
We hope to hold another English Conversation Partners session in Fall. If you are interested in participating in the next English Conversation Partners Program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.