It may be helpful to have a list of topics on-hand to help facilitate the first few conversations. The list below is a starter (and by no means exhaustive!).
Objective: Learn about special days throughout the year and how they are celebrated by law or custom.
Preparation: Bring a current 12-month calendar to the meeting. Make a list of holidays celebrated in your country.
Topic Ideas: Compare and contrast common holiday observations (New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.).
Discuss other special days, such as independence days and legal holidays, religious celebrations, etc.
Topic: Travel and Transportation
Objective: Learn about geography and tourist attractions
Preparation: Bring an atlas or maps of the world, USA, Texas, and partner’s country to the session.
Topic Ideas: Ask your partner to show on the world map which routes he/she traveled to get to their country.
On the map of Texas map, point out the location of the places to visit.
Tell each other which places you have toured and visited.
Make suggestions for spring break travel or plans for vacations during other school breaks.
Objective: Learn about daily meals and special menus for celebrations and possibly try new foods and exchange recipes.
Preparation: Eat at the campus café or dining hall together.
Exchange a favorite recipe or home cooked dish from each other’s country.
Go to a cultural festival sponsored by the university or community.
Topic Ideas: Discuss what food is served during a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Find out what special foods are prepared on holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.
Talk about rituals, etiquette/manners, eating utensils, etc. associated with food.
Objective: Learn about family structures (nuclear or extended), values, and domestic lifestyles.
Preparation: Bring a family photograph, album, or family tree to the session.
Topic Ideas: Share favorite memories about your family, relatives, etc.
Talk about parents' professions, your home, your family vacations, your upbringing, etc.
Tell each other about any pets you or your family own.
Objective: Learn about the types of jobs available and most common in each other’s countries. Learn about employment opportunities on campus, in the area, and abroad.
Preparation: Bring a classified ads page from the newspaper or illustrate using the web.
Topic Ideas: Share financial tips for college (part-time jobs, money management strategies, etc.).
Talk about your part-time job/internship/assistantship/fellowship experiences.
Discuss how your partner is preparing for his/her occupation.
Compare and contrast what information may be included in a resume in each other’s cultures.
Discuss what it would be like to work in each other’s countries.
Most importantly…..go enjoy the conversation, and expand your cultural horizons!