Whether you are working on your English, learning a brand new language or just looking to make friendships with people from other countries, you should definitely check out the International Center (IC) @Purdue, conveniently located on the Purdue Campus, 523 Russell Street. Cozily hiding behind green trees, it offers a variety of classes and activities for all Purdue students and for those who are interested in other cultures.
If you are new to Purdue and would like some English practice with friendly people and a leisurely discussion you would surely like to join one of four conversation groups and a causal atmosphere over coffee. People with any level of English will feel welcome! There are also options to attend English as a Second Language courses which run all year round.
I really liked attending the Tuesday morning Conversations over Coffee where we made cute stuffed dolls and cards, ate cookies and even cooked meals. The IC has a spacious kitchen which allows to manage food preparation for a few dozen people. Every month you can enjoy a Global Cafe, presentation featuring some country and a chance to sample its traditional food. Also there are regular dinners for special occasions: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Summer Supper series around 4th of July. You can be exposed to all sorts of traditional cuisine without having to leave campus.
After filling dinners and suppers, let’s get back to language classes! Should you want to learn a new language or practice other languages besides English, you can do that, too, since IC offers classes in Spanish, French, Chinese, to name a few. The list of offered classes is different each semester depending on the needs of the community. If your schedule is like mine and does not allow you to commit to a full course, you can attend a conversation group and learn at your own pace. Currently, there are French, Spanish and Japanese Conversations. I have been lucky to make friends at the French conversation group. My French is far from perfect and there are not too many chances to practice it in West Lafayette with native speakers, so having a place to come every Friday just to immerse yourself into French conversation is extremely helpful.
Another cool thing you can do at the IC is volunteering to teach your mother tongue to a group. I have taught Russian for four semesters and have found it a very rewarding experience. You only need to commit for one hour a week but the satisfaction you get from watching your students progress learning about your culture and language is tremendous.
I cannot complete this post without mentioning the IC spotlight event of the year, Global Fest. It is a huge all-day-long fair with dozens of booths representing various countries where you can sample traditional food while listening to the live-music and shopping for souvenirs. Naturally, the little house behind the trees cannot accommodate all those tables so it is held in the open air of downtown West Lafayette. It’s a great way to make your weekend both fun and educational. All the profit is donated to the International Center to enable them to run another series of interesting free events for the community.
The writer is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at Purdue University.
Learn more about other cultural centers and graduate student opportunities at Purdue: https://www.purdue.edu/gradschool/