Winter 2024 Conversation Circles registration is now closed
Winter 2024 Conversation Circles run February 5 - April 21
Facilitators sign-up for Summer 2024 opens on May 14th
Facilitating a conversation circle gives you a chance to meet new people from around the world, learn about other cultures, and share their own interests and experiences with U-M students. It also helps support our international community, by providing fun and interactive opportunities to facilitate conversations, promote a diverse and inclusive environment, and help students learn about U-M and their local community.
In order to facilitate a Conversation Circle, you just need to:
- Be affiliated with the University of Michigan
- Possess a high level of English fluency and deep personal knowledge of US culture
- Be willing and able to commit to meeting your circle once a week for one hour for ten weeks (in fall/winter, or eight weeks in summer)
Orientation and Training
If you are facilitating for the first time, you will need to attend a required one-hour orientation and training session. Several different sessions are available both in person and online to accommodate different schedules. You will receive a follow-up email with details about these after you sign-up.
You decide where and when to hold your Circle. You pick a time that that works well for your schedule. If you’d like some guidance, we can offer some tips:
- Time: In general, the most popular start times are weekday evenings after 5:00 pm, and weekends (Saturday or Sunday). Keep in mind that your participants may be joining from multiple time zones around the world. Consider scheduling your meeting between 8-11am or 8-10pm Eastern Time in order to accomodate participants in European, Middle Eastern, and Asian time zones.
- Location: Facilitators are responsible for choosing where to meet and booking the space, if that applies. See the "Facilitators Resources" page for suggestions.
- Budget: Unfortunately, ELI does not have a budget to provide food or pay for actitivities for circles.
Interests: When you sign up, we ask you to list your interests to help participants select a Circle. Be specific, if possible. More specific interests can help your circle stand out, and attract like-minded participants. For example, consider listing something specific like “early 20th-century jazz” rather than just “music”.
Membership: Graduate students are by far the largest population in the program, so be aware that your circle may be made up entirely of international Master’s and PhD students. Many Visiting Scholars and Postdocs also participate.
The First Meeting
You can track sign-ups as they appear in the “My Circles” section of this site. As soon as members sign up, you should email them to welcome them, and share the time and place of your first meeting. You should also ask participants to share their emails and mobile numbers with you and each other, in case anybody gets lost. For the first meeting, choose a very conspicuous spot so that members can find each other — you might even want to play airport and hold a sign.
It’s very important that you maintain weekly attendance records via your attendance sheet on Google Docs. Please also keep us informed about participants who stop attending, or who have you worried for any reason.
You are the glue!
Keep your regular meeting time, even if only one member can come. As the semester goes along, Circle members sometimes drop out because of other commitments. Don’t worry, this is natural, but please keep us informed when this happens. Take charge of your Circle. You will ultimately be responsible for making sure your Circle stays together, so take initiative in setting up meetings and contacting the others.
VERY IMPORTANT!!! We ask that you be sure you can honor the full ten-week commitment (eight-weeks in Spring and Summer) before signing up to facilitate a Conversation Circle. Think about midterms and finals now, not later. Remember, up to five international students will be counting on you to meet them even if your schedule fills up with school, work, and personal commitments!
Canceled Circles are a disappointment for participants and a headache for administrators, so please sign up only if you are sure that you can fulfill the commitment.
Do I need to re-apply if I’ve been a facilitator before?
Yes, please! All previous facilitators need to fill out a new application for the current semester. Please just indicate on the form that you are a returning facilitator.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about or problems with your circle. We want the program to be fun for you, so we’ll try to work out any kinks. Have a great time with your circle!