This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
News Bureau • Schofield Hall 201Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900
UW-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Community
Continue Tradition of Welcoming Visitors
MAILED: July 10, 2001

         EAU CLAIRE — For more than 20 years, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has played host to a variety of foreign visitors interested in honing their English speaking skills in the university’s intensive English language immersion summer course. This year, the tradition continues as visitors from Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, India, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Korea improve their English while experiencing life in and around Wisconsin.
         The program came about originally through a connection with the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), a 30-campus system in Mexico much like the UW System, and the majority of participants still come from there.
         The courses last between four and six weeks, run daily from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., and include about one hour of “English table” in Davies Center (11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.), which anyone is welcome to join. The only requirement is that only English is spoken.
         Wednesdays are set aside for field trips, including visits to the Chippewa Valley Museum, a local fire station, Sacred Heart Hospital, Fanny Hill Inn and Dinner Theatre, Banbury Place, The Leinenkugel Brewery, Manz Elementary School and a historic homes tour. Weekend trips to Valley Fair, Minneapolis, Madison and the Wisconsin Dells are also offered.
         According to Dr. Gale Crouse, professor of foreign languages and director of ESL programs at UW-Eau Claire, after so many years of successful programs, the value of bringing people of other countries and cultures to UW-Eau Claire is widely recognized. Both UW-Eau Claire students and faculty benefit from the chance to interact for an extended period with these diverse groups, which often include as many educators and other professionals as college-age students. And as the visitors learn more about life in the United States and improve their English skills, both groups have the opportunity to make lasting personal and professional connections.
         What is less often noted, however, is how the symbiotic relation between UW-Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley community operates in relation to these programs. Just like vacationers or convention goers, the students who come for the English program go out into the community to explore, contributing to the health of the local economy. And community members play a role in extending and enriching the experience for the visitors by welcoming them on the tours of local facilities and by inviting them into their homes for meals and conversation.
         Currently there are about 24 couples and families from Eau Claire and surrounding communities who host “Conversation and Cuisine” dinners. Some are UW-Eau Claire faculty members or alumni, and others are just people who enjoy the opportunity to meet and mingle with people from other countries.
         Dr. Kate Lang, assistant professor of history at UW-Eau Claire, and her husband David Knowlton, an artist and the scenic shop supervisor for the university’s department of music and theatre arts, have participated in the dinners for three years. Kate says she participates because as an Islamic culture historian she has traveled extensively and been welcomed into people’s homes in other countries many times.
         “I definitely felt that I wanted to return the favor and give something back,” Lang said. “Spending time with families is one of the best, most effective ways to learn a language.” And since Lang’s family now includes four children ranging in age from a toddler to a teenager about to enter college, she says she really appreciates the opportunity to give them some exposure to people from other cultures.
         John Grump, a hydrogeologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and his wife, Amy Alpine, a librarian with the Indianhead Federated Library System, have also been involved for three years. Grump says he and his wife both love traveling and meeting new people. They have hosted both students and professors from Japan, and more recently, students from Mexico.
         “It’s almost like traveling,” Grump said. “We get a taste of another culture and a feel for its people. We become friends with the people we host, and it always feel like we get more out of it than we give.”
         Grump and Alpine became involved with the program after their children had already grown up and left home, but Grump said that it would be fun to involve them as well sometime.
         Kathy Peterson, community projects coordinator for the Center for International Education at UW-Eau Claire, said a second group of visitors from Japan and Korea will be coming for four weeks, from July 15 - August 10, and the center is always interested in finding more dinner hosts.
         Peterson ends her e-mail messages with this quote: “The language of friendship is not words, but meanings. It is an intelligence above language,” (Author unknown.).
         Community members interested in hosting a “Conversation and Cuisine” dinner should contact Peterson at the Center for International Education, 836-4411.

UW-Eau Claire Home [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: July 10, 2001