The Best Class You’ll Ever Take: The Pal Program

Statistics, U.S History, Biology, Chemistry, and Music Appreciation are some of the many required classes that you will have to take in college. Schedules jam-packed with your required lower division classes and prerequisites for your major sometimes need a few sprinkles of easy one or two unit classes. These classes can range from ballet to drama, or from weight lifting to beginners fencing.

But one course that people don’t usually think of or even know about is English tutoring for International students, fondly known on my campus as The Pal Program.

This year it was a little difficult to come up with enough classes that were upper division so I went and had a talk with my advisor; she recommended I become a part of the Pal Program and be a Linguistics Tutor for International Students.

It sounds fancy right? I thought,

“I’m not qualified to be a Linguistics Tutor!”

Then I found out that I would simply be conversing with international students who were seeking to improve their English.


Meeting My Pals

I received an email assigning me to my two pals and we arranged a time to meet for coffee. The only requirement for the course was that we meet once a week but even that requirement is flexible as the Pal Program is understanding about packed schedules. One of my pals is a grad student from China and my other pal is a grad student from Chile’. I met with each of them separately for the first time and found out their background stories, I don’t know what it is about me but every time I met with them I found myself directing the conversation towards food; and because I couldn’t get away from the topic of food the majority of our meetings that followed centered around food!

During one of our meetings we each made a dish that we would typically eat for dinner. Being a typical American college student I made a pasta dish…I didn’t cheap out and just throw some penne pasta in pot and dump some Ragu on it, I made my own sauce from scratch and added sautéed veggies, then I threw some pesto tortellini in a pot. My pal brought some marinated ribs and spiced tofu, both were so good!

Our next meeting was combined with my roommates and their pals. We had all six of our pals come to dinner at our apartment where we made more pasta with veggies and apple turnovers for dessert. Then we whipped out a game and spent the evening eating and playing “Blurt” which is basically a more mellow form of “Taboo.”

What I loved about this program was that aside from helping my pals with English, I was learning so much about their culture as well. This program also opened my eyes to see how brave International students are by coming to a country they know nothing about. I also realized that we Americans talk way too fast and this helped me slow down and enunciate whatever I was saying. But more importantly this course was so much fun! What other course is out there that requires you to hang out with people and do whatever you want?!

Benefits From The Course

If you are just looking for an easy one unit class then I definitely recommend taking this course. What’s nice about it is that there is no set schedule so you can really meet whenever and wherever you want. It’s also such a fun course where you’re meeting someone you may not have met otherwise and taking time to help them become more comfortable. But even aside from those benefits I learned so much about my pals, their backgrounds and how different America really is from other countries. It was such a rewarding course that I highly recommend everyone to consider! Especially if you’re in need of that extra unit.

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Bryanna Maty

Bryanna Maty

Bryanna Maty is a Senior at the University of California, Davis. After graduating in June she hopes to find or invent a career that will utilize her love for writing, spending money and making people laugh. In her spare time you can find her crafting things off of Pinterest, swimming, line-dancing or watching re-runs of “Friends.”