Building International Friendships

 

 

There are so many interesting and fun things you can do with people from other countries who are living in yours. Here are a few to get you thinking. Just be brave and be friendly and you’ll have amazing experiences! 

Eat Together 

Ask your new international friend if you can take him out to eat at a restaurant that serves ethnic food from his country. Ask lots of questions to learn all you can about the unique foods, flavors, and culture of eating for his people. 

As you order, tell him if you are vegetarian, don’t eat pork, or can’t handle spicy food. This will help for a future time when you might cook together and eat at his house or yours. He’ll be able to see it’s possible to make food in a way that accommodates his new friend. 

You can ask your international friends to teach you how to cook their food or offer to teach them something you like. 

Review some good questions to learn about Eating in their culture. 

Visit a Museum, Zoo, or Other Local Site 

Almost anyone who is new to your country would be happy for you to introduce them to local sites and have you share the history and interesting points. Discuss the local culture and history while also learning about their history. International students will especially appreciate this as they are often without transportation. 

Review some good questions to learn about their Animals, or History, Government, and Leadership

Play Cultural Games 

Plan a time to get together in the park with your new international friend’s family. A park is a nice, neutral place to first get together. In the future you could do it at your home. Ask them to teach you and your children (or your brothers and sisters) some games from their culture. You can also share some games that you know with them. 

Think of other things you can do as a family with their family. Click here for some good questions you might use to get further acquainted in areas of Parenting, Marriage or Schooling. 

Play Sports Together 

Some cultures especially enjoy soccer (or football as most countries call it). Others are really into baseball or basketball. You can join them or invite them to join you. Often it’s after the game is over that there is time for visiting and eventually significant conversations. 

Here are some questions about Leisure Time. 

Celebrate Birthdays 

Find out your international friend’s birthdays and think of appropriate and special ways to communicate your interest through a card, a gift, or a party. Ask what they do for birthdays in his home country. (Some don’t do anything). After you’ve had a chance to care in some way, tell him how you like to use birthdays to thank the God who you believe gives life and many blessings. Ask if you can pray for him for God’s special blessing and help in his new year of life. It may also be an excellent time to give a spiritual book or DVD. 

Share Their Memories 

Ask your friend if there is a time you could visit at her home and see pictures of her homeland and hear stories. 

When you visit, ask if she has any photo albums that she could show you where she used to live and what life is like in her country. Ask about her family. You may want to take some of your photos to share about your family also. 

You could also ask her to speak in her language and to show you what it looks like. You might want to see if she could share some music from her country as well. Perhaps she even has a national costume she could show you. 

There is so much you can talk about. You can click here for good questions that relate to the above such Environment and Beauty, LanguageClothing, or in general Tell Me About You!. 

Help a Humanitarian Cause 

Choose a humanitarian cause in the country from which your new international friend comes. Together organize a fund-raiser to help. Involve the local people from that country as much as you can and they will learn that you really care about their people. 

Have a Cultural Exchange Conversation 

Ask your friend to write down some idioms or proverbs from his culture. You do the same. Explain to each other the meaning of the idioms and talk about the values they represent. 

Make Friends in Your Workplace 

One of the most natural ways to make friends is in the workplace. Watch for opportunities to make better friends with fellow workers and customers who are from other countries. Lunch time is one great opportunity to try new foods and talk together. If someone can’t speak English very well, be patient and helpful, and try your best to still make a friendship. 

As you pray, God may lead you to make a job change purely to place yourself where you can be around a lot of immigrants, refugees, or international students. 

Go Out into Nature 

Take your new international friends out into nature. Many of them miss the rural environment in which they grew up, but now may have little chance to get out and enjoy it. You can take trips to the ocean, national parks, a river, or just a local park. When appropriate you can also plant seeds of belief in the Bible and God by drawing out lessons from nature.Click here for some questions and ways for sharing God through nature.  Ways to Meditate in Nature 

Start a Choir 

Invite people to join an international choir and work together to learn songs in various languages that represent members in the group. On the other hand you might want to gather a choir that sings primarily in one ethnic language such a Mizo choir from Myanmar and India. 

Study Their Culture 

Through books, videos, and the internet you can learn further things about the culture of your new friend. Ask him about the various things you learn, to see if it accurately represents his people. Invite more explanations and descriptions. You might look at the videos together or ask him to show you where you can learn more. 

After you’ve talked about something regarding their culture, you can say, “And what do you believe?” This gives them a chance to share their own values and what’s presently happening in their personal convictions. The Holy Spirit is working in everyone’s heart and this may be a chance to hear something that is happening. 

You can find lots of information by subscribing to a Google news alert for their culture or the country they are from. 

You can also look under Country Studies at the US Government site. 

You can simply search online under such things as “Hmong culture.” 

Join in Their Holiday Celebrations 

Ask your new friend if she will celebrate any of her home country’s national holidays. Ask if it would be okay for you to join and observe. Learn something about the holiday in advance so you can know how to ask good questions. This may also help you avoid some spiritual activity in the holiday that is against the Bible and your convictions. 

Click here for some questions you could ask about Holidays and Leisure Time. 

Invite Them for a Holiday 

Many newcomers to America and other places are eager to understand and participate in local holidays. Invite your international friends to join you in your celebrations. Through the things you do together and other things you observe and talk about, you can teach about your culture and values, pointing out both good and bad things. Pray for opportunities to emphasize family, moral, and spiritual values that are important to you and that will draw them closer to God. 

For some initial ideas of what you could do, look for ideas on the holidays below: 

Christmas 

Thanksgiving

The 4th of July

See what other opportunities you can find for building friendships and talking about important values on Memorial/Remembrance Day, Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and other holidays.

More Information

ChristmasIndependence Day and Canada DayRead God's Love for RefugeesThanksgiving

Related Information

Be Inspired by Philip and the Ethiopian TreasurerBefriend International StudentsBuilding International FriendshipsDiscover Amazing Opportunities To HelpDiscover Unreached Internationals near youHospitality HintsHost Students for a YearInvolve Your Whole ChurchLearn from Other International Student MinistriesLearn More About Where They’re From And Where They’re StudyingQuestions You Can AskTalking about Internationals