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A Volunteer's Story: AnneGray

By: Mica Gadhia


July 21, 2023: AnneGray shares from her diary: 

“My favorite day of the week is International House Day. My favorite hour of the week is the Italian conversation hour.” 


AnneGray came to visit International House once she arrived back in Charlotte after spending a lengthy time in Italy. Speaking with AnneGray is like talking to a ray of sunlight, and her enthusiasm to be part of IH was immediately clear. 


Mica Gadhia, Executive Assistant, and AnneGray, spoke for 30 minutes in the hot sun at the picnic tables when International House was still at 1817 Central Avenue. Together, they came up with the steps to take so that AnneGray could facilitate an Italian Conversation Hour for our Charlotte community through International House. 


August 2022, she shares from her diary, “Well AnneGray, now onto the adventures ahead with this one. Who knows where it will lead? The good thing is, not only will this force me to work on my Italian, but also work towards finding fun ways to get us involved and curious about the language. I am, however, just a little bit nervous because I'm scared, I don't know exactly what I got myself into, but perche, no? Something in me was determined by this and well, here we are making it happen.” 


Once AnneGray connected with Lauren Rogers, our Director of Community Engagement, a time was set, an event was created on our website, and we posted the times on our social media calendar. 


It was slow going in the beginning for AnneGray and our local Italian speaking conversation hour, but as many important gatherings can be, in time they can build momentum and community.  


Community Building Takes Time 

At first there were two participants, some weeks just one, and then magic happened a few months later! 


On March 23, 2023, AnneGray wrote in her diary, "I was a very happy facilitator. I texted my family after and said, 'Biggest group turnout today! Every time I leave feeling so full and happy! Crazy how big it's gotten, not only me and Pedro anymore...'” 


The group became more connected as the months went on with their weekly Conversation Hours. 


AnneGray has since gone on to study abroad. Before she left, she sent a thoughtful email to me and Lauren signing off with, “I could not thank you two enough for welcoming me with open arms last summer and each week following.” 


AnneGray sent this postcard to the Italian Conversation Hour group from Scotland: 



It is such an honor to work at an organization that welcomes world travelers to share their experiences locally. 


The Italian Conversation Group participants are now a group of loving human beings who stay in touch from every corner of the world. And it started right here in Charlotte, NC, through the International House on a sunny Friday afternoon. 


If you so desire 

Are you our next conversation hour volunteer? 


It takes one person with the desire and ability to show up once a week (or once every two weeks like our Arabic conversation hour group) for a Conversation Hour to gather around a new language.  


Our Friday French conversation hour at 6 PM just celebrated its one-year anniversary! It started really slowly at first with one person, two people, and then just like our Italian conversation hour, they have an average of fifteen French language speakers any given week.   


If you feel ready to begin creating a group of language speakers, we’ll offer you and your group a comfortable space, a guide for how to get it started, and social media announcements. 


You can find all the Conversation Hours hosted by volunteers of International House on our site here. You’ll find French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, German, Mandarin, English, and of course, Italian.  


If you’re interested in learning more about how you can start a Conversation Hour, please email us at info@ihclt.org and we’ll get you started. No experience at all is necessary except a willingness to speak in your native language or to be brave enough to learn a new language. 


We are incredibly grateful for everyone who facilitates a conversation hour and everyone who attends to connect through a new language.  


You’re so important to Charlotte and you are how International House continues to thrive. 



Grazi! 


 






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