Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Together: Cross-cultural friendships

For today's Tuesday Topic Melissa asks: What have been some obstacles for you in developing cross cultural friendships? How have you overcome them? How long did it take? In what ways do those friendships affect your life?

We look forward to your answers and discussion in the comments!

If you have a question you would like to discus in the future, please send it to me at fylliska@gmail.com.


  1. oh boy!! This is a topic that took a long time for me to understand!! I think its different in each host country. It took me about three years to understood the definition of friendship in Costa Rica. I had my North American thoughts and understand that those are very different! For Costa Ricans, most of their social needs are met through their extended families. This makes deep friendships not a important. We have dear close friends that we only see every couple of months. Very different. I found that the language barrier makes things hard too. I learned I had to be patient with developing national friendships and that it would take a lot longer than I thought it would. After almost 4 years, I am feeling like I can say and mean it, I have Costa Rican friends. Not just acquaintances, but friends.

  2. I love this topic! Having Russian friends has always been a strong desire of mine, but it has not always been an easy thing, especially during our earlier years in Russia. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that even when we have the desire to form bonds across cultures and are willing to work hard to do this, it is not always reciprocated because the difference in culture and language does create some unique challenges that don't usually happen in friendships, and it takes both people being willing to work through and see past some of those differences. I think I had to realize that despite my desires, some of the people that I would have liked to be friends with didn't have the same desire. That is hard, but it helped me to free myself up from spending too much effort long-term pursuing friendships where I was the only one ever doing the initiating. (Though most friendships started out with me doing all of the initiating and eventually transitioned to being a two way relationship). I think I've also tried to make a purpose to build deep rather than wide when it comes to cross-cultural friendships, meaning I invest a lot into a few people rather than a little into a bunch. I can only manage a few deeper cross-cultural friendships at a time because of my busy schedule and because even though I love these friends, they do take a bit more energy and effort. My best friends have come through shared life experiences (one friend I met on the playground because we walked with our kids at the same time and were neighbors, another I met through my daughter's pre-school class years ago, another is the neighbor who lives below us, another is Russian missionary who shares a common vision for her family...). I think the key besides having some shared life experience if possible, is just time spent. I have also seen friendships really deepen a ton when we've done special things together. Inviting people into our home is of course a way that friendships have deepened, but also doing fun things like going on a little day trip together, or on a fun outing with our kids, and things like that have really helped to deepen friendships. As far as how those friendships affect my life, I think first of all I just truly enjoy them and am blessed by these friends, secondly they help me to know and love the culture here more, and they also give me a very natural opportunity for ministry (as most of my Russian friends are not yet believers). Oh, and as for how long it took, I think it took 3 years before I could say that I had a true friendship with a Russian that wasn't just me always doing the initiating. That was a long time to wait, but what a joy when it finally happened!