Wouldn't it be amazing to meet some of the 57 million Scouts around the world? With world events, like the annual Jamboree On The Air - Jamboree On The Internet, known as JOTA-JOTI, you can!
When meeting new people, it can feel a bit challenging sometimes to start a conversation and keep it flowing.
Don't worry, we’ve got you covered. Here you can find 10 conversation starters for meeting friends around the world. Whether you’re at an event in-person or online, a good start to your meeting with a new friend can turn a normal conversation to a great one !
1. Where are you from?
Let's start with something simple. It’s helpful to first know where our new friends are from, so we can discover what you have in common, learn a fun fact about their country and what language(s) they speak.
Maybe they are from a country you dream about visiting, or maybe from a place you’ve never heard about! Be kind, curious and non-judgmental with your questions, and be open to answering some of theirs.
2. What language(s) do you speak?
Hello, Bonjour, Hola, Salaam Alaikum, Zdravstvuyte! There are more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world, and this might be a chance for you to learn a new greeting in one of them. Don’t be shy to try and to teach something to your new friend.
Sometimes, we won't speak the same language, and that’s OK! Depending on the situation, there might be a friend who can help translate, or you can use a tool like Google Translate to help. If that doesn’t work, we know that language will never be a barrier to making new friends in Scouting. A smile goes a long way, and you can still show some things about your country and Scouting experience by sharing links to your National Scout Organization’s social media pages.
3. When and where was your first Scout camp?
Maybe you’ve learned that your new friend is from a very different country and speaks a different language, but there’s one thing you definitely have in common: you are Scouts! What better way to bond than to share stories from our Scouting life?
While Scouts around the world love to camp, it can be a very different experience in different regions. Find out what the environment was like at their first Scout camp: Was it cold or hot? Forest or desert? What sorts of wildlife was there?
4. What colour is your Scout group’s scarf/neckerchief?
It doesn't matter which part of the world you’re from, if you’re a Scout, you have a scarf! Or maybe even more than one. Compare the colours of your group or country contingent scarves, or maybe share your personal neckerchief collection and a story or two about where they came from.
5. What is your favourite Scouting activity?
You may have very similar Scout activities in your countries, or maybe you’ll learn about some you’ve never heard of before. This is a chance to learn and get inspired for new things to try with your Scout group! Don’t forget to tell your group where you learned the activity, and encourage them to make some international friends.
6. Do you have a favourite badge?
Scouts are collectors at heart. Big or small, we love our badge collections! Get details about their favourite badges by asking more questions, for example: ask if they have any favourite badge style, if they are currently working towards a new one, how many they have or if they are looking for a special one. Maybe you can even trade some badges!
7. How would you describe yourself in three words?
Maximum insight in minimum characters. Sometimes we don’t need to explain ourselves so much in order to let people know us a little better. Let's summarise who we are in just a few words. Based on this description, you’ll probably come up with new interesting questions, find things you have in common and manage to connect as friends.
8. What is the typical dish of your country?
Another way of getting to know a new culture is through food. Ask your new friend to tell you about their favourite local or national dish and see if they have any ingredients that you’ve never heard of! Look up photos or videos about the dishes and exchange recipes so you can try something new for dinner.
9. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Sharing our dreams can be a fun way to bond with others! So share your dream destination - whether that’s a Scout event or vacation ideas - and ask your friend about their. Find out what they like about it and how many hours it would take to get there.
10. Do you have a favourite Scout song or dance? Can you show it to me?
Go bananas, go go bananas!! Who doesn't like Scout dances or songs? Exchange some melodies, chords and dance steps with your new friend, and don’t be shy about it!
As Baden Powell said: “A Scout is a friend to all”. Let's not be afraid to go out into the world and meet new people. Let's take the first step and start new conversations. Let’s create friendships that will last a lifetime!
Don’t forget to be safe when meeting new people online. Get ‘Be Safe Online’ certified so you’re prepared for online meetings with new people. You never know who is behind the screen, so always protect your personal information. Note: If you are under 13 years old, you must participate in online activities with a parent or guardian. If you’re 13-18 years old, make sure your parents are aware of online events you participate in and who you are talking to online.
Do you have other ideas for starting fun conversations with Scouts from other places? Share them in the comments below.
Did you have a great meeting with Scouts from another place? If you have permission from parents/guardians/Scouts, you can share the story by publishing and tagging @worldscouting and #Scouts on Instagram or Twitter!