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Winter 2018 Circles run January 29 — April 15

Facilitator sign-up NOW OPEN!! January 8 — 18

Click here to sign up to facilitate a Circle


Facilitator eligibility:

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)

If you are facilitating for the first time, you will need to attend a required one-hour orientation. 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). On the other hand, equally, there are no time slots that are consistently unpopular, so choose whatever time works best for you.
  • Location: 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
  • Beanster’s Café in Michigan League or Pierpont Commons
  • Bubble Island
  • Computer and Video Game Archive (Duderstadt B474)
  • Crazy Wisdom Tea Room
  • Elixir Vitae on Liberty or Maynard
  • Espresso Royale on South University or State Street
  • Java Blu Café in East Quad or SPH
  • Lab Café
  • Sweetwaters on E Liberty or N Fifth Avenue
  • UMMA commons area


  • Michigan Union (basement, lobby, billiards room, Au Bon Pain, or Tap Room)
  • 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)
  • Starbucks on State Street or South University
  • Sweeting

Other Central Campus locations that have attracted previous circle facilitators include the Dana Building student commons, the East Hall first and third floor atriums, East Quad Café, the Mosher-Jordan Community Center, Palmer Commons, Potbelly on State Street, the Rackham lobby, the Shapiro Library lobby or Bert’s Café, Siegle Café in the Ross Business School, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, and the Diag.

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 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.

Keep Attendance
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.

The Commitment
VERY IMPORTANT!!! We ask that you be sure you can honor the full ten-week commitment 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!