4 Ways to Start Genuine Conversations With International Students

4 Ways to Start Genuine Conversations With International Students

2018-10-26T09:35:49+00:00September 27th, 2016|Tags: , , |

You’ve just met an international, and you sense God saying, as He did when Philip spotted the Ethiopian on the road to Gaza, “Go to that [student] and stay near [him/her]” (Acts 8:29).

To start a conversation that can warm you to each other, add a little “F.I.R.E.!”

In his book The Disciple’s Mission, Avery Willis Jr. suggests using the acronym F.I.R.E. to begin conversations that can help share faiths and reveal some entry points to friendship.  Here’s IFI’s adaptation:

F = Family and friends

  • What is the average family size in your country? How many people are in your family?  Do you have pictures of them?
  • Do grandparents or other relatives live in the same house with your family?
  • What holidays do you and your family celebrate? What do you do on those holidays?
  • In your culture, what is an acceptable way to meet someone to marry?

I = Interests

  • What are the most popular sports in your country? Do you play them?
  • What American films are popular in your country?
  • What kind of music do you enjoy? Do you play a musical instrument?
  • When you have free time, what are several things you like to do?

R = Religious Interests

  • Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
  • What do you believe about God?
  • What religious tradition does your family follow?
  • What is your impression of religion in this country?

E = Experiences

  • What was a good surprise when you came to the U.S.? A bad surprise?
  • What is difficult about life in the U.S. for you and your friends?
  • What was the “high” for you in the last week? The “low?”
  • What are three things you hope to do or learn in the U.S.?

Listen closely to the international’s verbal responses; watch his or her nonverbal responses as well.  Keep an ear open to God.  Ask Him where He wants to take the conversation!

NOTE:  Another helpful resource is IFI’s Conversation Starters document.

Become an English Conversation Partner!

New international students want and appreciate friendly help to become comfortable speaking and listening to English.  They can’t find this in a classroom.
IFI’s English Conversation Partner (ECP) program to the rescue!  If you 1) are a trained IFI volunteer, 2) are a native speaker of English or you speak English well, and 3) have an hour a week to spend with a struggling student, you could be an ECP!  (And one of the things you can talk about is your life with Jesus.)

Right now, a lot of new students have requested an ECP.  Would you ask God if He wants you to be an ECP this fall?  If He says yes and you live near The Ohio State University, click here to sign up!  If you don’t live near OSU, click here to contact the leader of the nearest IFI location.
If there is no IFI near you, would you pray that all new students who want an ECP would get one?  Thank you!