“Stop 4 a Chat”: Fostering Connections with A.C.E. at URI

stop4chatInspired by Thomas Knox’s “Date-while-you-wait”, A.C.E. students at the University of Rhode Island braved URI’s student union to see if they could attract American students to chat. The original Date-while-you-wait features a table set up once a week in New York City subway stations and is designed to foster connections between people.

Students mimicked Knox’s idea with a small table, an empty chair, a flower, the game Connect Four, and a welcoming smile. Students took turns sitting across from the empty chair as passers-by glanced at the table with intrigue and many took the time to sit down for a game. Students practiced striking up a conversation and using language discussed in class including how to introduce themselves as well as the art of small talk. Several students successfully exchanged contact information with local URI students and one was invited to a Halloween party!

A.C.E. at URI’s “Stop 4 a chat” is featured on Knox’s Facebook page, where he thanks A.C.E. students for taking a chance by trying out his project. Knox also took time out of his busy schedule to Skype with A.C.E. students telling them about how #datewhileyouwait started as just an idea. Knox encouraged students to believe in their ideas and to follow through with them, as his #datewhileyouwait has expanded his perspectives. Knox was recently invited to speak to college students in France and is partnering with other universities and individuals who would like to set up #datewhileyouwait tables in their cities.

One A.C.E. student was impressed that Knox genuinely enjoys connecting with people: “He is a really kind person and gentle. He was so patient with us and tried hard to understand us.”

Memorial Union event coordinator, Sherri Davis has invited the A.C.E. students back to Memorial Union to set up the “Stop-4-a-chat”table on November 20th during International Education Week. Davis fully supports this project and thinks it is a simple and effective way for URI students to have the opportunity to meet international students.

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