Fall 2020 Conversation Circles will be offered ONLINE
This is an opportunity to support our community and be part of the UM family while apart. You can provide a valuable space for UM students and scholars to stay connected and beat loneliness and uncertainty. Facilitating a virtual conversation circle gives you a chance to meet new people from around the world at the time of sparse in-person communication, learn about other cultures, and share their own interests and experiences.
Fall 2020 Circles run for ten weeks: September 28 - December 6
Facilitator registration: September 8 - September 17
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 10 weeks (in fall/winter, or 6 weeks in spring/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. In Fall 2020, these orientations will be conducted remotely over Zoom. Several different sessions are available 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, though, 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 for Fall 2020 participants may be joining from multiple time zones around the world. Consider scheduling your meeting between 8-11am or 8-11pm in order to accomodate participants in European, Middle East, and Asian time zones.
- Location [Please note- for Fall 2020, Conversation Circles will be conducted online]: You should pick a location which is close to campus and where you are confident there will be room for 7 people to meet and talk comfortably.
In the past, these locations have been especially popular for Conversation Circle meetings:
- Amer’s on Church Street, State Street, or Michigan Union
- Bubble Island
- Computer and Video Game Archive (Duderstadt B474)
- Crazy Wisdom Tea Room
- East Hall (math and psych atriums)
- East Quad (basement, dining hall, or Greene Lounge)
- Elixir Vitae on Liberty or Maynard
- Java Blu Café in East Quad or SPH
- Lab Café
- Literati Coffee
- Michigan League (basement or Maizie's)
- Michigan Union
- North Quad (lobby or Language Resource Center)
- Palmer Commons (Fields Cafe)
- Panera on North University or Plymouth
- Pierpont Commons (lobby, piano lounge, Commons Corner, Fireside Café, or Mujo Café)
- Shapiro Undergraduate Library (lobby, Bert's Cafe, or second-floor study spaces)
- Starbucks on State Street or South University
- Sweetwaters on E Liberty or N Fifth Avenue
- UMMA commons area
Other Central Campus locations that have attracted previous circle facilitators include the Ann Arbor District Library, Common Cup Coffee, the Dana Building student commons, the Law School Commons Café, the Mosher-Jordan Community Center or Victors, the Munger Graduate Residences 8th floor lounge, NeoPapalis, NYPD, Potbelly on State Street, the Rackham lobby, the Ross School of Business Winter Garden or Siegle Café, the School of Education Brandon Center, the School of Social Work lobby, Silvio's, TeaHaus, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, and the Diag. Other North Campus locations include the BBB lobby, the Chrysler lobby, the GG Brown atrium, and Songbird Cafe.
Feel free to pick a location just for your first meeting; you and your Circle members can then decide together on a mutually acceptable location for subsequent get-togethers. Just be sure to alert CircleUp-Questions@umich.edu if you change your meeting location.
Finally, North Campus locations are always extremely popular, and tend to fill up within hours, because typically demand is very high and supply is very low.
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 Post-Docs 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 (six-weeks in Spring and Summer) before signing up to facilitate a Conversation Circle. Think about midterms and finals now, not later. Remember, up to six 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!