The Office of International Students and Visiting Scholars is hosting Cultural Conversation dinners, where students can learn about the different international cultures represented at ACU.
The mission of these dinners is to create a safe space, where both international students and domestic American students can learn from each other.
Erika Guajardo, sophomore biology major from San Antonio, said she has seen these dinners create an escape for international students.
“I think that these dinners are pretty effective just because I feel like it gives a sense of community,” Guajardo said. “From what I’ve seen from my roommate who is international, it just is a way to kind of get away from people who are maybe not from here. It’s just a sense of community, really.”
The Office of International Students partners with community families who have volunteered to be a part of the International Student Support Team. The dinners are hosted at the homes of members of the Abilene community a part of this team.
During these dinners, students are encouraged to take in the hospitality, mingle with one another and share their experiences.
Veronica Summers, the international student specialist for ACU, is the main facilitator for these dinners. She said the effectiveness of the dinners depends on the students and the environment they bring with them.
“The experience is very different every time because you’re with new people, you’re talking about a different topic and you’re with a different family, and so there’s always something new,” Summers said.
Summers and her intern created the “3C’s Dinners” while she was a graduate student at ACU. She created a facilitator guide to influence the initiative at other universities.
The dinners were inspired by Friday night international dinners. They are meant to be small and intimate, helping to build a stronger impact.
With at least two dinners scheduled for each semester, Summers said she wants to encourage all students, regardless of background to participate.
“The invitation is open,” Summers said. “It’s not limited to international students or students involved in our office. It’s open to anyone on campus who would want to come.”