Conversation partner appointments are easily one of my favorite types of appointments at the UCWbL because of how open and flexible they are. Being free to just sit down and talk with a writer is often a fun experience because it offers so many different options of things to do — chatting about Starbucks, crazy weather, doing mock interviews, exploring different restaurants around the city, pointing out cool places to go in Chicago, and more. And while there are a lot of resources we can use during a conversation partner appointment, one resource I always use is Google because it’s free—and it’s a resource that can be used by almost anyone, so it’s not writing center-exclusive.
There are so many ways to use Google in conversation partner appointments, but one of my favorite is looking up pictures of food! Very often in my conversation partner appointments, the conversation will go into the topic of food. Whenever this happens in my sessions, I look up pictures of the foods I’m talking about (usually regional Mexican food like pambazos because that’s the dish I’m about) so that the writers I’m talking to can get an idea of what I’m talking about, or vice versa.
Google Maps is another resource I like to use, especially when it comes to showing writers around the city. Writers new to Chicago always want to know where the good spots around the city are, and Google is an effective way to show them my favorite Spanish restaurant (the paella Iberica is great) or the best Colombian bakery in the city (get some buñuelos and carimañolas), among many other awesome spots. Using Maps is good not just to show writers places around the city but also to show them how easily public transportation can get them there (shout out to U-Pass for making public transportation that much easier).
While it’s easy to take control of conversation by just talking about things you know, it’s important to let the writer talk as well. A good question to ask after you’ve shown your conversation partners an image/video/site of whatever you’re talking about is if they can share something related to their culture. This gets both of you involved and helps you discover things, via Google, that you may not have come across on your own. I love how Google supports these culture-sharing activities in conversation partner appointments.
Of course, Google isn’t the only online resource you can use during a conversation partner appointment. One of my writers didn’t know what gospel music was, so I pulled up YouTube and looked up gospel music. We listened to a few tracks together, and this was another way for us to share culture in our appointment, facilitated by the internet.
There are so many resources we can use during conversation partner appointments to facilitate sharing and understanding, and being conscious of how to effectively use those easy resources at our fingertips will just make our appointments better! What kinds of resources do you turn to during conversation partner appointments?