Day: September 3, 2015

Volunteer as a Conversation Partner for IESL

Conversation Partners is an opportunity that pairs students in the Intensive English as a Second Language (IESL) program with more proficient English speaking members of the Michigan Tech community. The program is open to students, faculty and staff. Participants commit to one-hour a week of one-on-one informal conversation by signing a contract with the IESL program for one semester. The contract commits them to meet their partner in public places on campus for a minimum of one hour a week.

IESL is offering this opportunity again for the fall semester; consider giving an international student an hour of your time. It makes an enormous difference.

How the program works: 

  1. Interested students, faculty, and staff members may download and complete a form
  2. IESL matches students with participants. The program makes every effort to match people of the same gender though sometimes this may be difficult. IESL will always check with volunteers before matching them with someone of the opposite gender.
  3. IESL introduces the conversation partners to each other at an initial meeting. Both parties sign a contract stating that they will meet on campus once a week for the duration of the semester.
  4. Though partners meet independently, Listening and Speaking teachers will often check in with students.
  5. If there are any concerns, we ask that volunteers contact the IESL program as soon as possible.

Why participate in this opportunity? As a member of the Michigan Tech community, there are many reasons why you should consider and commit to being conversation partner. Here are some of them:

  1. Make a new friend and create a potentially rewarding friendship
  2. Help an international student understand American culture and society
  3. Experience the contemporary global landscape from the unique perspective of one of our international students
  4. Develop deeper cultural awareness and understanding by through a sustained conversation with someone from a different country
  5. Participate in promoting rewarding cross-language relations and cross-cultural dialogue on campus

The role of a Conversation Partner: As a partner your main responsibility is to offer your IESL student conversation practice. At times you may have to explain English language points but we are not asking you to be an English as a Second Language teacher. The goal is for your conversation partner to have plenty of speaking and listening practice.

The IESL program can provide ideas for your weekly meetings at the program’s preliminary meeting. Those who have participated have found the experience rewarding. We urge others to give it a try. Contact IESL with questions at iesl@mtu.edu.

(This article originally appeared in Tech Today.)


Tech Faculty and Grad Students Hit the Road

On the weekend before orientation, the Industrial Archaeology Program (SS) made a graduate-study tour to Milwaukee. Five Social Sciences faculty and five graduate students (SS and HU, both MS and PhD) investigated industrial production, adaptation to industrial decline and how urban patterns have been affected by industry, both historically and today.

The five-day trip, partly underwritten by the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee, included factory process tours, museum visits, and a day at Chipstone discovering explanatory and interpretive strategies for material culture, primarily using the history of the ceramics industry as the focus for the day.

Visits included the Kohler Company, which produces ceramic and cast iron bathroom fittings; Caterpillar Global Mining (formerly Bucyrus-Erie), which builds some of the largest earth-moving machinery on the planet; Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations, where we saw engines and transmissions being assembled on a state-of-the-art assembly line; La Lune designer rustic furniture company, where small-batch artisanal woodworking is still practiced; and the Falk Foundry (Rexnord Industries) in Milwaukee, which has sadly been decommissioned in the last six months, but which offered a glimpse of active deindustrialization.

Museum visits included the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers (WI), the Grohmann Museum at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, which has an extensive collection of artwork depicting industrial work, and the Iron Mountain (MI) Pumping Museum. The final stop of the whirlwind tour was the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Herrling Sawmill in Greenbush (WI), a reconstructed 1850s vertical sash sawmill. The historically accurate sawmill has been reconstructed on the basis of archaeology done by Michigan Tech’s Industrial Archaeology Program in the 1990s. Sadly, the day we visited the saw blade was misaligned and a main bolt had sheared, so it was not running, but it was wonderful to see the final result of our archaeology of 20 years ago.

(This article originally appeared in Tech Today)