Winter 2023 Conversation Circles Run January 30 - April 16.
Facilitator sign-up is now closed.
Facilitating a conversation circle gives you a chance to meet new people from around the world, learn about other cultures, and share their own interests and experiences with U-M students. It also helps support our international community, by providing fun and interactive opportunities to facilitate conversations, promote a diverse and inclusive environment, and help students learn about U-M and their local community.
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 ten weeks (in fall/winter, or eight weeks in 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 Winter 2023, the ELI will offer both in-person and remote training sessions. 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, 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 your participants may be joining from multiple time zones around the world. Consider scheduling your meeting between 8-11am or 8-10pm Eastern Time in order to accomodate participants in European, Middle Eastern, and Asian time zones.
- Location: Winter 2023 Circles will have both in-person and remote options.
In the past, these locations have been especially popular for Conversation Circle meetings (please check for current availabilty/Covid-restrictions, etc):
- Amer’s on Church Street, State Street, or Michigan Union
- Bopjib on Church St.
- Chatime Michigan
- CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice, Ann Arbor on Plymouth Rd.
- Computer and Video Game Archive (Duderstadt B474)
- Grabbagreen food+juice on E. University Ave.
- Kilwin's Chocolates on E. Liberty St.
- Lan City Noodle Bar, Ann Arbor on S. University Ave.
- Literati Coffee
- M-36 Coffee Roasters
- Maize and Blue Delicatessen on S. University
- Michigan League (basement or Maizie's)
- North Quad (lobby or Language Resource Center)
- Palmer Commons (Fields Cafe)
- Panera on North University or Plymouth Rd.
- Pierpont Commons (lobby, piano lounge, Commons Corner, Fireside Café, or Mujo Café)
- Shapiro Undergraduate Library
- Starbucks South University
- Sweetwaters on E Liberty or N Fifth Avenue
- UMMA commons area
- Vertex Coffee Roasters on S. University Ave.
- Yoon's Bakery on Plymouth Rd.
Other Central Campus locations that have attracted previous circle facilitators include the Ann Arbor District Library, Common Cup Coffee, the Law School Commons Café, the Mosher-Jordan the Munger Graduate Residences 8th floor lounge, 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 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 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 Postdocs 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 (eight-weeks in Spring and Summer) before signing up to facilitate a Conversation Circle. Think about midterms and finals now, not later. Remember, up to five 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!