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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Top 5 tips how to make friends while volunteering abroad

“God and angels don't get paid even though theirs is some of the most important work around. Ditto for volunteers.” ~Cherishe Archer. Some of the fears for volunteers when they are going abroad are whether they will be able to make friends. Some fear they may be too different and understanding others will be a problem. Hence making friends could be a problem. This fear is common among teenagers, young adults, boomers and expats who are abroad. Most of them are self conscious especially the shy ones find it difficult to socialize with others. Children are lucky in that they can meet anyone of their age and they will be able to get along immediately. It’s very common for kids from different places playing together like they have known each other all their lives. Like kids, older people can make friends quickly and easily if they approach the people abroad the same way. Here are tips to make friends while volunteering abroad:

Smile and laugh

Many people find it easier to socialize with people who smile easily and laugh more. Smiling makes the volunteers to be more approachable and fun to be with. The volunteer as well as the local people both want to friends and they are not sure how to go about it. Laughing at jokes and smiling breaks the ice and tension in the conversations. Laughing shows that the volunteer has a sense of humor and is easy to get along with. Humor goes a long way to make long lasting friendships and it’s the quality most people look for. The local people will appreciate the volunteer laughing at their jokes and boosts their self esteem.

Small talk

As the volunteer and the local people don’t know each other and they also don’t know the things that they have in common. One of the ways to get to know each other is through small talk. Small talk could include talking about where they are from, where they are going and what they are doing there. Eventually through the conversation they will find common ground and find topics in which all of them can talk in length about. Small talk is a polite way to meet and know potential friends. Even though they might be a communication barrier, the local people will appreciate the effort made by the volunteer.

Popular areas

People won’t come knocking at the volunteers’ doors to make friends. The volunteer will have to come out of their comfort zones and going to meet new people. One of the great places to meet people will be in popular areas, bars, restaurants, sports and special events. In these places there will be a large number of local people who share a common interest. Being in such areas it will be easier to make friend there. For example currently the cricket world cup is going on in India, if a volunteer want to make more Indian friends they would go watch a match at a restaurant and they are bound to meet many people there. Apart from popular areas, the volunteers can go to local parties to meet people.

Local language

Local people take a fancy to foreigners who are able to speak their local language. The volunteer could be in an English speaking country, but there could also people who are speak the local dialects. Volunteers, who make the effort to learn local words, are better placed to learn the language. This interest would also make the local people want to learn the volunteers’ language. By doing this it will be easier for them to form long term friendships.

Express interest

When meeting new people the volunteer should express interest to what the other person is talking about. During the conversations they should ask questions and try to understand what the other person is on about. The volunteer should be genuinely interested what is being said otherwise it would be offending the person they are talking to.

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