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Service Learning

International Conversation Cafes

In support of the college's initiative on diversity and globalism, members of the Speech Communication Department have joined with the Honors Scholar Program and Phi Theta Kappa academic honorary to develop and nurture a series of International Conversation Cafes as an International Service Learning Project.  Immigrant students comprise a significant and growing proportion of HCC's demographics at the same time that national and local leaders are calling for college students to become not merely effective citizens of the U.S. but also effective global citizens. Immigrant stories on our campus can provide all students with concrete insights into particular cultures and countries, as well as perspectives on the experience of coming to the U.S. and to our campus.

The purpose of this project is to discover, engage, and support immigrant voices, build lasting connections to our immigrant communities, and create opportunities to share perspectives within a global context on a range of issues across our campus community. Students in CMST 200 (Intercultural Communication), CMST& 210 (Interpersonal Communication), and CMST& 220 (Public Speaking) collaborate on International Conversation Cafes, engaging and immersing themselves in multi-national diversity.  Each class plays a specific role in the Cafe process, each capitalizing on the skills learned in the particular class.  Intercultural students explore the target culture each quarter, presenting information for the campus to use to be better prepared for Cafe participation.  Interpersonal students sensitize themselves to varying cultural perspectives, practicing interpersonal skills during campus and community networking, encouraging active participation from both immigrant and non-immigrant students and communities.  Public speaking students reach out in classrooms, in local high schools, and in the community to explain and publicize the event.   Students from the Honors Program and PTK provide leadership continuity from one quarter's Cafe to the next.  Cafe's thus far have focused on the cultures of Ethiopia, Ukraine, Korea, Vietnam, and Latin America, on what traditions students from those cultures most value, on what they wish that all students knew about their cultures, and on what the campus could do to be a more inviting and useful place for people from their culture.

The results are exciting.  Students report with excitement that they are stretching their global perspectives by opening communication channels between students, both immigrant and non-immigrant.  Speech 200, 210, and 213 students get hands-on intercultural applications of course content that expand their cultural literacy and their communication effectiveness in diverse settings. Honor students get the opportunity to participate in a service learning project that increases their awareness and knowledge of cultures other than their own and that offers them leadership opportunities as they serve as cultural liaisons and as conversation cafe discussion leaders.  The college sees the Speech Communication Department and the Honors Scholar Programs as serious allies in achieving a key part of its mission.

The International Conversation Cafes are a sustainable project that better connects immigrant groups on campus with the broader campus community so that HCC will have a deeper understanding of the populations it serves and the cultures they represent,  and can use this deeper understanding to enrich the global awareness and communication competence of all students.

Speech Service Learning Projects - Conversation Cafes

These PowerPoints describe the International Service Learning Project created to support the college's initiative on diversity and globalism through the use of an Ethiopian Conversation Cafe (Spring 2005) and a Korean Converation Cafe (Fall 2005).