It’s easy to make friends with internationals–there is so much to talk about!
Just be friendly and learn to ask lots of questions. The following topics will help you explore new areas and grow closer to your friends. It will also reveal your values and theirs as you discuss and interact. Listen carefully and you learn areas where they have needs or hurts. You will find opportunities to care and pray.
- Tell Me About You
- Environment and Beauty
- Holidays and Leisure Time
- Health and Health Care
- Societies Problems
- Shopping and Money
- Miscellaneous Culture
- History, Government, and Leadership
- Television and Movies
Suggestions for Asking Questions
This is a big bunch of questions. You certainly don’t need to go through all of them or keep to any specific order. They are just attempts to stir your mind in directions that might help you get to know someone of another culture better.
The important thing is of course love, true interest in the person, their past, present, and future. It will help to apply Jesus’ golden rule, thinking about how you’d like someone to treat you if you were in their place.
Keep it natural, not like you are in an interview. You might say something like, “I’ve been wondering about what it was like back home for you. In particular I was wondering what it was like for you to grow up there. Would you mind telling me about your home, your neighborhood, and your school? If the person talks freely, then you wouldn’t need to ask all the questions. However, if they are having a hard time thinking of things to say, you’ll be ready with plenty more questions to ask!
As you talk to the person you will gain the sense of whether or not you are asking too many questions. If you are prayerful and watchful you’ll be able to tell if you have hit on a sensitive topic and you can then back off.
Keep in mind the English-speaking ability of the person you are talking to so you can keep it simple enough! Remember to encourage them no matter what speaking level they are at.
Something interesting you’ll discover is that topics that are “taboo” in one culture aren’t in another. In some places they’re happy to tell you their age and their weight! In some places people freely talk about the price of things they bought.
You can ask them what they talk about when they’re first getting acquainted with someone.
Some topics such as political questions can be sensitive, so you may want to wait until the person is truly comfortable with you.
Terri Salee, who has many international friends, writes, “The best guide as to what questions to ask, which questions not to ask, and when and in what order, is always the Holy Spirit. Some cultures are very straight-forward and would prefer that you get right to the point and not beat around the bush. Others avoid confrontation or sensitive subjects like a plague. God promises to be with our mouths and teach us what to say, as He did Moses.”
Enjoy your time. You’re about to get to know some very special people.