International café launch at St Leonard’s Church, Exeter
We have been having fun with all things English at our new international café at St Leonard’s church, Exeter. Here’s Lotty, one of our 15 native English speaking helpers, chatting with some of our international guests.
Launched in March, the café aims to welcome internationals, asylum seekers and refugees into our city. It’s a safe place where internationals of any level of English receive a friendly smile. They can meet other internationals and find a supportive place to practise their English with native speakers. Children are also invited so that parents can attend as well. We held an initial test event on 6th March and had 35 guests from different countries, including several Hongkongers.
Each of our café sessions has a theme that helps us frame our activities. So far, we have discussed what to do when invited to an English person’s house and enjoyed a session exploring adjectives to describe things.
This Sunday, we are going to have a topic-based session on housing in Exeter. Jonathan Newall from Southgate Estates, one of the best-established local estate agencies, will conduct a Q and A on all things housing here in the area. International café participants have already been sending their questions via the WhatsApp group we have set up.
Next week, the café concludes for Easter with an Easter Egg hunt and a talk on the theme of tea. Internationals will be able to enjoy a traditional high tea with sandwiches, cakes and scones.
Plans for the International café after Easter
After Easter, St Leonard’s church has signed up to offer a new six-week course from Welcome Churches, aimed specifically at helping internationals (and particularly Hongkongers) integrate, practise English and preview the Life in the UK test, which they will have to take for their citizenship after their initial 5-year visas expire. We hope this will be a useful experience for all guests. We will then dip into some of the ideas for activities that run well in cafe-style English sessions from our ten simple and effective themes for international cafes blog.
After the café, we stay around for chats with internationals on a one-to-one basis. Here we listen, signpost and where appropriate pray with them if they wish. There is also an open invitation to join us for the evening service after the café.
As our International café launches in Exeter, we are really excited to be part of this amazing experience. Isn’t it great to learn and share with others who have different cultural experiences, and be part of God’s amazing plan for our city?