Bridging two worlds...
If you’re reading this post, you likely know enough about the general functioning of our organization. I want to focus this post on further explaining some of the verbiage we talk about and my personal experiences that make me so passionate about the CU mission.
Our founder and director, Elise, found a small and easy way to change hundreds of peoples lives for the better. She started CU in the midst of a huge influx of displaced populations. Passionate about revitalizing how classic humanitarian aid works, she created CU as a testament to how she wants the world to change for the better.
So what do we mean, revitalize how classic humanitarian aid works? Well, as college students, we’ve spent a lot of time studying how international relations work in times of peace, conflict, and displacement. I’ve learned a lot about how humanitarian aid, as it stands now, is not as effective as it has the capability to be. Some radical scholars even compare it to throwing money at a problem. Less radically, there is some correlation between an inefficiency of a government or structure that aid provides only a temporary bandage repair to greater structural problems.
With CU, we focus on a mutually beneficial relationship with net positive outcomes. In our case, our tutors provide a service for which they are compensated. As a result of this interaction, our tutors and our students engage in cross-cultural exchange, both learning about each others’ lives and cultures.
A lot of literature on effective language learning focuses on the importance of a person starting to learn the language at a young age. Another wave of literature has conversely focused on the importance of conversation to propel language learners from basic grammar to fluency. We’re filling in a gap that promotes the second; language learners hold conversation sessions with fluent, often native, speakers of the language. Our students are learning the language, and learning it better.
One testimonial really exemplifies how conversational language study can bolster one’s language abilities. One of our CU students (and our CU assistant director!), Jessica, has shared the following:
“Through the conversation sessions with my tutor I became more confident in my ability to speak Arabic with native speakers in a non-academic environment. This has been super beneficial because I have been using my Arabic a lot with my job in Greece so the benefits are really apparent to me. It was also super cool to really get to know my tutor and to talk about different topics and learn about another culture at the same time!”
Our programs bridge these two worlds together, that of the student language learner and that of the native language speaker. I think there grows an incredible relationship from this bridge -- language learners can learn about the real culture and history of the language and the people who speak it.
On a more personal level, I want to share my constant amazement at the passion and power of our team, starting with our founder and director at the forefront, Elise. As the daughter of displaced immigrants, I feel personally empathetic to the situations of our tutors, of which we hope CU can help to bolster their current living situations. Elise’s incredible idea and passion exemplify our generations desire and ability to create the change that we think will reshape our world for the better. And don’t worry, she doesn’t read these posts before they go out, so Elise doesn’t know I’m writing so highly of her.
So there are some thoughts on how conversational language learning is crucial, how our programs are so important and different, and how I feel so grateful to be a part of this movement!
-- Gabrielle, Marketing Manager