global friends faqs

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What is Global Friends?

Below are quick answers to frequently asked questions about the Global Friends program. Fuller answers are available by contacting the Global Friends leadership team and can be found in the Global Friends Resource Guide that volunteers receive at orientation.

Q:   What is the purpose of Global Friends?

Q:   How often do global friends meetWhat time commitment is expected of global friends?

Q:   How are global friends matched?

Q:   Am I expected to drive or own a car?

Q:   Who can participate in Global Friends? Do I have to be a member of Park Street Church?

Q:   If I have children, can I request to be matched with a global friend with children?

Q:   What activities can I do with my global friend?

Q:   What resources are available to me?

Q:   What if one or both global friend(s) no longer has time to meet?

Q:   What if global friends have little in common, don’t get along or no longer seem interested?

Q:   What if I or my global friend moves out of the area?

Q:   How do I respond to a global friend's request that makes me feel uncomfortable?

Q:   What is an appropriate way to end my time as a global friend?

Q:   Who may I contact if I have questions about my global friend or the program?

 

 

Q:   What is the purpose of Global Friends?

A:    Global Friends is an opportunity for internationals and volunteer hosts alike to experience hospitality that leads to authentic friendships and blessing. 

In the Old Testament, hospitality is a virtue that God commends to and requires of his people (Leviticus 19:33-34).  In the New Testament, the Greek word  translated as hospitality means "love of strangers." Jesus and his followers depended fully on the hospitality of strangers while they ministered from town to town. The author of Hebrews admonishes Christ followers to remember and to show hospitality to strangers for "by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2) -- for which Abraham provides a notable example (Genesis 18:1-8). 

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Q:   How often do global friends meet? What time commitment is expected of global friends?

A:    After the initial match, global friends discuss and decide how frequently they meet.  The normal commitment period is one academic year, with a minimum of one meeting per month.

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Q:   How are global friends matched?

A:    The process of matching international with host is multifaceted.  A few key considerations include expressed interests, personal background and experience, life stage, neighborhood, and accessibility to (public) transportation.  All matches are same-gender (i.e., women with women, men with men).  The Global Friends leadership team identifies matches based on data from the application forms submitted by both internationals and hosts.

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Q:   Am I expected to drive or own a car?

A:    Neither the ability to drive nor vehicle ownership is a requirement to participate in Global Friends.

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Q:   Who can participate in Global Friends? Do I have to be a member of Park Street Church?

A:    Any international who is 18 years or older and affiliated with one or more ministries of Park Street Church may participate in Global Friends. 

Any adult who considers Park Street Church his/her spiritual home and considers metro Boston his/her home city may apply to become a volunteer host in Global Friends. 

Membership of Park Street Church is not required to participate in Global Friends.  The Global Friends leadership team reserves the right to determine eligibility of participants.

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Q:   If I have children, can I request to be matched with a global friend with children?

A:    Yes.

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Q:   What activities can I do with my global friend?

A:    In general, there is no restriction to what global friends may agree to do with one another.  Some popular activities include exercise, sporting or other events in outdoor venues.  Other possibilities include attending a special event such as a lecture, concert, theatrical performance or community (humanitarian) service project.  Many global friends enjoy everyday routines such as taking a break for coffee or tea, sharing a meal or going to the store.

Visit the Global Friends Activities page for more ideas and recommendations by global friends.

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Q:   What resources are available to me?

A:    All participants of Global Friends receive the full support of the Global Friends leadership team which includes but not limited to: an initial orientation, cross-cultural resources, community groups, counseling and occasional in-service trainings.

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Q:   What if one or both global friend(s) no longer has time to meet?

A:    Many people have full, busy schedules that are carefully optimized and balanced.  When something unexpected like an illness or accident occurs, it is normal to reschedule a Global Friends appointment or take a short break until a busy period passes. 

Remember that activities can be simple and brief.  Meaningful experiences can happen in any setting and at any time --even in informal activities, such as when one global friend invites the other on a routine trip to the store, on a coffee/tea run, or to jog around the park or along the river front, for example.

But if it becomes clear that one or both friend(s) can no longer sustain even an occasional, brief meeting, then it may be time to end formally the Global Friends friendship.  Read: What is an appropriate way to end my time as a global friend?

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Q:   What if global friends have little in common, don’t get along or no longer seem interested?

A:    Despite the diligent work of program staff to match global friends, sometimes host and international share only a few points of common interest or experience.  Also see above: How are global friends matched?

So it may feel as if you have exhausted everything in common after a few meetings, especially if you engage in the same type of activity repeatedly.  Also see above: What activities can I do with my global friend?  Also visit the Global Friends Activities page to see activity ideas and read what other global friends are doing.

Also most global friends encounter at least one but sometimes multiple cross-cultural challenges such as differences in language proficiency, food or dietary practices, social and family values, or religious observances.  Any of these can lead to misunderstandings --which, if left unacknowledged or unexpressed, could lead to unnecessary uncertainty, fear or anxiety.  So it is advisable upfront to ask questions, clarify, paraphrase and summarize what you hear as a part of the practice of active listening.

But if after some effort it remains clear that one or both parties has lost interest in the friendship, it may be time to consider formally ending the Global Friends friendship.  Read: What is an appropriate way to end my time as a global friend?

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Q:   What if I or my global friend moves out of the area?

A:    Friendships are sustained and nurtured at-will by both global friends.  Most healthy friendships encounter challenges at times.  Nevertheless should circumstances change that cause the friendship to become a hardship for either person, it is reasonable and may become necessary to end the Global Friends arrangement.  Read: What is an appropriate way to end my time as a global friend?

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Q:   How do I respond to a global friend's request that makes me feel uncomfortable?

A:    Every person has boundaries that determine what is considered public and private, or appropriate and inappropriate. The boundaries can vary from culture to culture and occasionally what one person considers acceptable in one culture may be inappropriate in another culture.

If you feel that your global friend has placed you in a difficult or uncomfortable situation, initially check your interpretation while resisting the impulse to become defensive, judge or leap to some conclusion.  Consider how the situation may look differently from your friend's perspective.  Seek clarification.

Remember that "no" is a reasonable response but may be expressed and received differently than expected in different cultures.  Neither Global Friends volunteer host nor international have legal, financial or housing obligations to the other. 

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Q:   What is an appropriate way to end my time as a global friend?

A:    Global friends are urged to commit a full academic year to the friendship. 

At the end of that period, it is appropriate to celebrate, even if your plan is to resume meeting again.  A celebration signals closure if friends can no longer meet as they have been doing.  It also facilitates healthy, forward-looking steps which can be practical, such as exchanging contact information and passing along helpful tips or connections in the place ahead.  Celebration also provides an occasion to reflect, appreciate and share with each other what you have experienced through the friendship.  The celebration can also give yourselves permission to disengage and focus on a timely and significant task such as packing up and moving away. 

Sometimes life circumstances warrant ending the Global Friends friendship before the end of the academic year.  Rarely the Global Friends friendship ends prematurely due to some failure-to-launch or worse.   Nevertheless, ending early may be awkward but need not be shameful or justify ending badly. 

If after considerable effort, it becomes clear to both global friends that it is impracticable to continue or there is no point in continuing, it may be time to formally end the Global Friends friendship.  Except in rare instances, it is the individual's responsibility to end the friendship arrangement. Thoughtfully explain the situation to your global friend and do not suddenly or unilaterally decide to stop meeting or communicating.  As far as it is up to you, try to meet one final time and celebrate.  See above for tips on celebrating.        

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Q:   Who may I contact if I have a question about my global friend or the program?

A:    General questions emailed to [email protected] will be answered in 24-48 hours in most cases.  If it is an urgent matter, you may call the church at 617-523-3383 and request to speak with the Director of New Initiatives to Internationals.

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