Welcome to InterNational Friendship Week!
We all probably remember how easy it was for us to make new friends as children. At a nearby playground, we’d discover that we had the same preference for the swing set or the monkey bars as another kid, we would spend a couple of hours playing happily together in the mud, and we might even have shared our favorite snacks and toys. One afternoon was enough to become “best friends forever”.
This sort of natural, playful ease starts disappearing as we get older and more self-conscious. In a worst-case scenario, we aren’t just keeping a polite distance because we’re a little set in our ways. We have also learned to harbor prejudice or even downright hostility towards other people for all kinds of unfounded reasons: because they eat the “wrong” food, come from the “wrong” country, talk with the “wrong” sort of accent, pray to the “wrong” god, or just because they support the “wrong” football club.
This transformation from trusting kid to suspicious adult is also the reason why the United Nations followed up on a suggestion from UNESCO, its educational, scientific, and cultural organization, and introduced the International Day of Friendship in 2011. Celebrated on 30 July, the day aims to build bridges between communities by building bridges between individuals, especially among young people. Children and teenagers, the leaders of tomorrow, will be able to contribute towards peace and understanding by learning how to respect and trust in one another — something that adults around the world sometimes need to relearn in a long and slow process.
A Community That Started with a Friendship of Global Minds
Being the world’s largest community for people who live and work abroad, we at InterNations are serious about “connecting global minds”. This tagline from our logo is just a shorthand for what our community stands for: we believe in the benefits of international experience, cultural exchange, and the power of bringing people together.
After all, the story of InterNations also started with a friendship of global minds. The two founders & co-CEOs Philipp von Plato and Malte Zeeck met on their MBA program while studying abroad and became lifelong friends.
When they embarked on their careers in different countries across the world later on, they realized how much harder it was for working professionals rather than international students to start over and over again in each new location. It wasn’t just that they had to figure out the practicalities of everyday life each time; they also missed their personal support network of family, former colleagues, and friends.
InterNations was created to be the solution to this problem: What Malte, Philipp, and the entire team do every day is to help bring people from across the globe together. Sometimes, these people merely spend a relaxing evening making small talk over some after-work drinks; sometimes, they too become lifelong friends.
Celebrating with Touching Stories of Intercultural Bonds
To honor the friendships among our members — friendships that cross borders, build bridges, and connect global minds — we will be celebrating InterNational Friendship Week from 27 July to 2 August 2020. During this week, we will highlight both international friendships and intercultural relationships.
For example, we’ll present the best and worst countries for making friends abroad according to the Expat Insider 2020 survey; we’ll feature new articles on cross-cultural friendships, making friends with locals, friendships in times of crisis, and many more in the InterNations Magazine, sharing touching stories from our members about international friendships worldwide. If you follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram), join our Expat Chats about related topics, check out our advice on friendships in the workplace, and share your own favorite friendship stories!
We are looking forward to hearing what your friends from all over the world mean to you and how they enrich your life. “Friendship,” the British author C.S. Lewis once famously wrote, “is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one…’” And in that moment, we might as well be carefree children at the playground again.