Interacting with those of a different culture can create some of the most blessed friendships.
Entering the college world will bring many new opportunities to try and moments to experience. Here at Calvary University we have an amazing group of international students that help us to create such special moments.
Noah Wittenbach, a Junior here at Calvary, has found that engaging with international students on campus can bring life and encouragement.
Noah grew up in Lowell, Michigan and had pretty much no interaction with international students while living there. When he moved to Calvary he met and connected with people outside of his own cultural norm for the first time. One of the individuals that he has grown close to is Masaki Ouchi, a student from Japan.
When asked about his most awkward or funny interaction, Noah explained his first few moments of meeting Masaki.
“When I first met Masaki we were in class and I was in a goofy mood. Masaki was sitting behind me, so I turned around and said “Ni hao”. Masaki started laughing and I didn’t know why. I was in a goofy mood, but I was really trying to be genuine. Masaki laughed at me and said that what I just said to him was Chinese, not Japanese. I thought I was going to like speak his language, but I was so wrong!”
The story above is both humorous and sincere. With that being said, I would say that many times our interactions with people from outside cultures are exactly that—humorously sincere. We are going to make a mistake when we interact with other individuals, but do not let the mistakes that you end up making in attempt to be kind, take you away from pursuing those friendships.
Noah has learned many different things throughout his interactions with Masaki, one of them being that he thoroughly enjoys the differences that they have.
Because of this, his favorite thing to do is compare the cultures. Noah says that, “it’s wild to think of how different we were raised! And even though our cultures are so different we are able to be united in Christ.”
That right there is one of the best things about interacting with our international students here on Calvary’s campus. We have a common goal in life, which is to glorify God in all that we do. The differences exist, but the same Spirit lives inside us all. Just as Noah has come to realize, “it’s not like one culture is right or wrong, it’s just different. They emphasize different things, and it’s cool.”
Our God is a creative God and we see his creativity in the ways that people live. Whether it is your literal neighbors next door, or your neighbors who come from across the pond, one can always find ways to celebrate who our God is by how He has created each of us to be.
The Lord has used interactions with many cultures to do a work in Noah’s heart.
When asked if God has changed his heart at all through his friendships with international students Noah says with confidence, “definitely!”
“I think it’s just I didn’t have any interaction with international students before college. God has opened my eyes to how unique it is. So many cool things that I’ve learned of my culture and others. I had no idea before, but God has opened my eyes to how cool it is to be able to interact with international students.”
Do not be shy in interacting with students that are from a variety of cultures. Noah gave some advice to everyone on making international friends, and it was this:
“Make friends with internationals! …It’s important to be patient with your interactions, knowing it’s probably not going to go like you think it is, and accepting that fact. I think that patience and acceptance are the two key things.”
Try something new today. Find a student from another culture and strike up a conversation. It may turn into a humorous interaction, but make it sincere. Be patient and accept the fact that ideas are going to differ. You will find yourself to be more blessed than you ever thought possible as you interact and learn with our intercultural brothers and sisters in Christ.