Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Make more international friends

by Paul Nielsen

Befriending and associating with international students, whether you’re a student or not, can help make a transition into cross-cultural missions easier. The following are a few brief anecdotes from my university days about international students that I knew:

• The first time I remember meeting Annu from India, she made me chai. It was the first time I tasted chai. Her chai, real Indian chai, is nothing like your local coffee shop’s Oregon Chai. It was loaded with pepper. I liked it, although I prefer it without so much pepper.

• Cesar from Colombia spoke English so well the university didn’t believe it was his second language. He regularly wrote to the student newspaper to correct their articles about the drug lords in Colombia. He had grown up with explosions just down the block from his apartment. The student paper never got it right.

• Most of the time Tadashi’s long and wiry hair was half green and half pink. He had more piercings than Pierce, Jeremy’s friend in the comic strip “Zits.” He wore studded bracelets too. When his mother and sister came from Japan for his graduation, he took most of his piercings out and dyed his hair all one color. Tadashi was one of the nicest people I’ve known.

A person can learn a lot about other cultures by having more friends. Friends from other cultures, that is.

The international students I met in college gave me greater appreciation and knowledge of other cultures; and they were also instrumental in my pursuing long-term missions service at all. Regardless of whether or not you’re pursuing missions, befriending international students gives you a clearer picture of the Kingdom of God.

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