A.C.E. Students Dialogue With SPU International Volunteers

By: Andrew Turgeon, Enrollment Services Coordinator

Each A.C.E. Language Institute creates a strong reciprocal relationship with its partner university for the benefit of both A.C.E. and university students.  I saw this reciprocity come alive while attending an event that linked A.C.E. students with Seattle Pacific University international student volunteers.

Through Seattle Pacific Reachout International, or SPRINT, SPU students participate in service-learning and mission trips in nine countries throughout the world, from Malawi to Russia to Haiti.  Owen Sallee, the SPRINT Advisor, asked students from the A.C.E. Language Institute at SPU to meet with his volunteers so that they could have experience speaking with and getting to know people from other countries before their departure.

There was no need for prompts or icebreakers; students immediately started to dialogue with one another.  Spontaneous discussion popped up between individuals and larger groups, between new friends and old.  At one point, I counted 15 different conversations happening at the same time.   This was a vibrant and diverse group of young people, eager to share stories about their varied homes, studies, and international experiences.

I was privy to a rather interesting and enlightening cross-cultural conversation between Fadhel, an A.C.E student from Saudi Arabia, and Chrissy, an SPU student who volunteered in Indonesia the previous summer.  Chrissy cheerfully recounted her experiences visiting different Indonesian island communities and staying with host families in small fishing villages.  Fadhel was equally excited to share that his family hosts Indonesians who travel to Saudi Arabia for the Muslim hajj pilgrimage every year.   This is no ordinary host family situation; Fadhel’s family was responsible for feeding and transporting 2,500 Indonesians last year!  He, along with an army of volunteers, took charge of feeding the pilgrims breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month.  Chrissy, her friend Emily, and I were not only in awe of his story but also of the brief amount of time it took us to connect and learn about international contexts.

This sort of cross-cultural conversation and relationship-building will be an important lifelong skill for both SPRINT volunteers and A.C.E. students.  We thank SPRINT Advisor, Owen Sallee, for giving students the opportunity to engage in this dialogue and SPU and A.C.E. students for being so eager and excited to participate!

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