Peers to Peers: Developing a Student-Coordinated Conversation Partner Program


  • Ron Aaron Baruch College, CUNY
  • Carmen Cedeño Baruch College, CUNY
  • Elisabeth Gareis Baruch College, CUNY
  • Lalit Kumar Baruch College, CUNY
  • Abhinaya Swaminathan Baruch College, CUNY



collaboration, communication, conversation partner program, culture, friendship, student-coordinated


The lack of meaningful interaction between domestic and international students is a persistent concern in international higher education. Conversation partner programs are a promising measure to promote the rich and repeated contact necessary for the development of intercultural relationships and communication skills. This article describes the process of launching and managing a successful student-coordinated conversation partner program with no or minimal funding. The five core team members (two faculty advisors and three student leaders) explain why they created or joined the program, their responsibilities, what worked, what was challenging, and what they recommend should other institutions want to start a similar program.

Author Biographies

Ron Aaron, Baruch College, CUNY

RON AARON, EdD, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Student Development and Counseling at Baruch College, CUNY. His research focused on the impact of student engagement in the out-of-classroom growth of college students. 

Carmen Cedeño, Baruch College, CUNY

CARMEN CEDEÑO earned her BA in Corporate Communication from Baruch College, CUNY. She is now the marketing manager at TravelBound in New York City.

Elisabeth Gareis, Baruch College, CUNY

ELISABETH GAREIS, EdD, is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, Baruch College/CUNY. Her major research interests lie in the area of intercultural friendship and oral proficiency for nonnative speakers.

Lalit Kumar, Baruch College, CUNY

LALIT KUMAR earned his BBA in Finance from Baruch College, CUNY. He currently serves as a Credit Risk Associate at Morgan Stanley in their office in Budapest, Hungary. 

Abhinaya Swaminathan, Baruch College, CUNY

ABHINAYA SWAMINATHAN earned her BA in Economics as well as Political Philosophy and Political Economy (double major) from Baruch College, CUNY. She is completing her final year of study for her JD degree at Harvard Law School.




How to Cite

Aaron, R., Cedeño, C., Gareis, E., Kumar, L., & Swaminathan, A. (2018). Peers to Peers: Developing a Student-Coordinated Conversation Partner Program. Journal of International Students, 8(3), 1316–1327.



Research Articles (English)