Friendships are vital to building an abundant life, especially during a time as confusing as these last few years. The pandemic has made it trickier for all of us to maintain relationships. Luckily, we have found simple, fun ways to cultivate new friendships and maintain existing ones! Here are 5 easy but mighty ways that we’ve learned to be a friend:

1) Attend outdoor events together: As the weather starts shifting into spring, consider planning outdoor activities. Ones that can be enjoyed no matter what language you and your friends speak are especially great! These can be anything from a simple picnic to a scenic walk, or even a nice day of gardening. Bring people together to enjoy the natural beauty and serenity of the outdoors.

2) Make a new friend a meal: One thing that needs little to no translation is delicious food! Think of your favorite dish, a classic dish, or a deeply meaningful dish that you love to make. Try making it for a new friend and their family. A homemade meal can be such a powerful and meaningful first step in a friendship. Food instantly makes everyone feel a deeper, more genuine connection with each other!

3) Ask to learn: Approaching any friendship as a learner is powerful for building trust. You might want to learn a new language or skill. These can be great opportunities to ask new friends for their expertise! If you’re learning together, notice your friend does something differently than you do. Ask about their approach, it might help you too! 

4) Learn on your own: We can learn from our friends about their culture or language, and it helps if we learn on our own, too. Take some time to notice certain words or phrases that others learn when they approach a new language. You can set aside a bit of time to learn these phrases in a new language, too! Learning a few common words or about  different country can open countless new doors within a friendship and community!

5) Be yourself: Learning about new customs, traditions, behaviors, and languages can be important when connecting with others. At the same time, friendships form through authenticity. Don’t feel like you have to adopt others’ norms in order form friendships! Greetings like a kiss on the cheek, for example, can be common in certain cultures. If that’s not yours, it’s okay to not adopt that cultural habit. You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to change things about yourself or suppress parts of your life and culture to fit in with others. Our differences make us unique in ways we can all appreciate.

Anyone who has had a friend knows that they can take a little effort. At Friends of Refugees, we have seen that making that extra effort to connect creates mutual flourishing. Our connections make our community abundant. We’re committed to forging friendship whatever the season, pandemic or no! Your support makes it possible. 

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