Supporting Intercultural Communication: Conversation Partners in the Writing Center
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Su is an international student who has been in the U.S. for less than three weeks, and she’s visiting the writing center for the first time. She’s enrolled in a seminar on Race and Theater and feels overwhelmed by the first assignment, which requires her to see a play and then write a paper in which she identifies its themes. Over the course of the session, it becomes clear to the tutor that Su’s struggles in the class go well beyond the writing assignment. When she attended a performance of the play, she misheard much of the dialogue, and she was confused by its many pop culture references. When the play was discussed in class, the conversations about these references went quickly, and neither the instructor nor the other students seemed to recognize that Su wasn’t following the discussion. Su also did not ask questions in class. She was afraid that her accent would make her hard to understand, and she was reluctant to reveal all that she did not know, especially her inability to anticipate what kinds of knowledge were expected from students in the class.