A New Beginning

All of us look forward to a new beginning at certain junctures in our lives. We move, begin a new job, start a new relationship, or a new academic course. Hopefully, we have learned from our past mistakes and successes and hope things will go better as we start again. While we might be apprehensive or even sad about what we have left behind, still there may be a glimmer of hope, an excitement for what might be next.

The Conversation Art Card, A New Beginning, is a way to have a discussion over a new start. Look it over, show it to a friend, and learn something about yourself.

  1. What do you notice in this work of art?

Sphinx of Hatshepsut, ca. 1479-1458 B.C. From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

2. A new beginning often starts with a new job, school, or relationship. What expectations do you have for yourself in a new beginning?

3. Choose a or b below:

a. Eli Khamarov said, “The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations.” What do you think Khamarov means?

b. The Old Testament prophet Micah describes what God expects of people. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Restate these thoughts in your own words. Do you think God’s expectations are reasonable and doable?

4. The sphinx sculpture shows Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh of Egypt. While acting as regent for young Thutmose III, she assumed and established her supreme authority. One way she did this was by commissioning statues of herself. To the Egyptians, a sphinx represented a king. Clearly, Hatshepsut marked a new beginning for herself as a pharaoh. Draw a picture or find a digital image representing a new beginning for you.

How Do You Cope?

The COVID Virus problem seems to continue. Depending on where you live, you experience a variety of restrictions. So what do you do? How do maintain a sense of normalcy?

Here is a list of my favorite things to do. Perhaps there is something you would like to try.

  1. Go on a hike or walk.

  2. Listen to familiar and new music. Try a virtual choir.




  3. Pray together.

  4. Practice gratitude.

  5. Gather in small groups at home or in a restaurant.

  6. Attend church in person or online. You can now attend almost anywhere in the world.

  7. Call people with FaceTime or Zoom.

  8. Listen to a new podcast.

  9. Create art.

  10. Try out a new recipe.

  11. Buy a new pet.

  12. Read the Bible and ask these questions.

  13. Exercise indoors or out.

  14. Play video, board, or card games.

  15. Read a new book.

  16. Write a poem or story.

  17. Clean your apartment or house.

  18. Get rid of stuff you don’t need.

  19. Buy some stationary and write letters with a pen and paper.

  20. Garden indoors or out.

  21. Pick up or revive a hobby, like photography or sewing.

  22. Attend classes when possible.

  23. Go shopping with your mask on.

  24. Look at art, virtually and at a museum.

  25. Learn a new instrument.

  26. Decorate your living space.

  27. Go to your public library and read a new magazine, one you have never read before.

  28. Sweep your sidewalk.

  29. Make dinner and take it to someone.

  30. Spend time with children.

What would you add to this list?
Please leave your comment on Face Book, International Conversation Cafe.
Thank you so much!

A New Summer Series: Folk Tales from Around the World

Each summer at KSU, our club hosts a summer project. It is a time when international students have more time and can take on greater responsibilities in meeting new students and offering them a variety of activities. The center piece for these activities is the Conversation Cafe. Fortunately, with the relaxation of COVOD 19 restrictions, we can meet for fun and conversation, staying socially distant, of course!

This summer, a friend of mine, Adeline Chang suggested we have topics centered around the theme of folk and fairy tales. She choose 8 stories from around the world. Each story teaches a moral or lesson. We read through the story together and answer four questions. Already, we have had some delightful conversations.

Where to find the discussion guides? On this website, go to Conversation Discussion Guides and then Eight Weeks of Conversation Cafe.


Lady Clare

I hope you have as much fun with these stories as we are having.


What’s New?

Cancelations. Adjustments. Alternate plans.  This is what’s new.

I had hoped that this would be the summer the Conversation Art Cards would be distributed world wide by students on summer missions. But of course that went by the wayside. No one is going far.

Realizing that many plans and meetings had shifted to Zoom meetings, I began to hope a website could be made for the cards that would make it easy for anyone anywhere to use the cards for discussion. Enter Cru Research and Development and Denise DiSarro who created a website that is attractive and easy to us. Please check it out. We at Bridges International at Kansas State University have found using the art cards online produces fun, interesting and stimulating conversation. Perhaps it would work for your group as well?
Please look it up at wwwconversationartcards.com.

I wish you enjoyment this summer, in spite of change, especially for your children.



The Young Amphibians, 1903. Joaquin Sorolla. Philadelphia Museum of Art 


Thorton Wilder once said,  “When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.”

The thing is that we are all safe at home these days wishing for an adventure; not the scary kind where we get in an accident or contract a dangerous Corona Virus.  No, we long for an adventure that reveals beauty and brings personal enrichment. Perhaps this is the time to pull out the discussion guide on Adventure from the list of Lifestyle topics. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the breath-taking beauty of Zion National Park seen through the eyes of Franz Bischoff.


Painting by Franz Bischoff, before 1929, Zion National Park

Wishing you the best in adventure,


Holy Week

Today begins Holy Week, the time when Christians remember the events leading up to the death of Jesus Christ. Holy Week culminates next Sunday, April 12, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  On our Facebook page for our English conversation club, we are posting a great work of art for people to enjoy and comment on. The art is selected from countries around the world. Perhaps you would like to check it out @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/KSUConversationCafe/

Korean palm sunday

 Woonbo Kim Ki-Chang, 1914-2001

I wish you a holy and insightful week.

Jane Fox

Coronavirus/COVID 19

Last week, a friend told me she was so worried about the Coronavirus she was having trouble sleeping. And no wonder. Recent headlines reflect the fear gripped by nations and people as the virus spreads. It takes time to sort out what news is accurate and what is not. In some places, classes are canceled and workers told to stay home in efforts to keep the virus contained. Never mind thinking about going on a cruise!

Last Friday night, at our community group, we discussed a Christian reaction to the virus. We talked about fear, judging others, and prejudice some people voice against Chinese. The discussion guide is under Conversation Discussion Guides, Bible Discussion Guides, Topics from a Biblical Perspective. Please check it out. As always, I welcome feedback.


Springtime hike at with international friends at Clinton Lake, Kansas




A New Series…The Hero Story


This image outlines the basic path of the monomyth, or “Hero’s Journey” from Joseph Campbell. (commons.wikimedia.org)

Have you ever noticed the similarity of hero stories? Someone is called to leave their ordinary lives behind and start on an adventure. They encounter danger, difficulties, and temptations. Often they find a mentor to help them. Through their struggles, they eventually overcome and go on to help others in their journeys. Whether it is a story from Disney, a mythical hero, or a true story of someone who has extraordinary courage, we are inspired to do better, to cope with our journey.

The Hero Story of Jesus Christ is a hero story like no other. You can find it under the    heading of  “Conversation Discussion Guides,” “Bible Discussion Guides,” and then “The Hero Story.”
Come and be inspired.

New Discussion Guides, 2020


International Student Discussion Time

At the beginning of each semester, we ask students what topics they would like to discuss. One would think, that we have already exhausted topics of interest. But of course, we have not. About everyday topics of interest, we five new topics. They are Common Slang, Cultural Celebrations, UNESCO sites around the world, Three Worldviews, Hobbies, and Cuisine.  For fun, the Cuisine discussion is great. Who doesn’t like to talk about eating? For a more insightful deeper conversation, I would suggest the one, Three Worldviews. It is based on the findings of anthropologist, Ruth Benedict.

If your group is interested in discussing things related to the Bible, we have five new topics. They are: Idioms in the Bible, Geography in the Bible, UNESCO sites (relative to the Bible events), Four Mistakes (when reading the Bible), and What Does it Mean to be a Christian. For fun and awareness, I recommend the one on idioms in the Bible. No wonder an understanding of the Bible opens an understanding of the English language and insight into our thinking. In that guide you will find an intriguing painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder titled, The Blind Leading the Blind. Four Mistakes (when reading the Bible), hopefully, will take some of the mystery out of what to expect when reading the Bible.

I wish you all a Happy New Year. May we all grow and deepen in our love and respect for each other and for God, who is blessed forever. Amen.


Always Time for Fun

Merry Christmas

“What do you notice in this painting?” is a question we ask students who pause at our table in the student Union. At Christmas, we displayed “Jose y Maria” by Everett Patterson. Although intriguing, many did not know the story of Jesus’ birth to begin with, neither international students or Americans. In my search for paintings to display I came across “The Census at Bethlehem” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, painted in 1566. Bruegel was Dutch and the scene is a Dutch village in which Mary enters on the donkey led by Joseph. In front of them is a rowdy crowd in front of a building. The sign on the building is the coat of arms for the Hapsburg empire who ruled over the Dutch from Spain under Philip II. The problem for the Dutch was unreasonable taxation on top of their famine and poverty. The slaughter of a pig in the bottom left of the painting suggests that people were so poor they had to kill their animals to satisfy the demands of the government.


And what about Mary and Joseph entering this chaos. They had nothing to offer, no solutions, only a need for shelter and a place to give birth to their promised son. And yet, into a hopeless situation, they brought hope in the form of a Son who will one day rule the world with justice.

I wonder what you and I would illustrate, what chaos would we depict and then place Mary and Joseph in, bringing to all hope of a Savior and King? Sometimes hope comes from sources that at first glance seem doubtful, like an ordinary couple needing shelter. Who would have guessed that their son will one day bring justice to the world and end the suffering of mankind everywhere. May I not be tempted to become hopeless but trust God for the fulfillment of a greater picture than I can now see or comprehend.

For unto us a child is born,
To us a Son is given.
And the government shall be upon his shoulders.

  And his name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace
There will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
Establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
From that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
Will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For more information about this painting, please refer to Google Arts & Culture