Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year!

AHLI is happy to welcome new and returning students to the 2021-2022 school year. As you settle into your host family and jump back into school, you may be experiencing a range of emotions from excitement to apprehension. Going into an unfamiliar situation, whether after a long time or for the first time can stir up feelings of uneasiness and anxiety. Every teenager wants to meet people like themselves and feel like they fit in. It can be easy to put a lot of energy into convincing others to think you are awesome or cool. But there is a better way to make more friends faster. Here are 6 ways to start off the year with confidence to build friendships.


While it can be difficult to smile in new situations, it’s a great ice breaker. Research tells us that people tend to “mirror” (reflect) the emotions of people they see. So if you have a positive energy, you are more likely to attract positive people around you.  

Remember Names

Put effort into remembering a person’s name when you are introduced to them. Your name is part of your identity, and when you remember a name, you show that you are interested in them as an individual. If you call everyone “friend” or “hey you,” people will be less inclined to befriend you.

Listen to Others

Everybody appreciates being heard. While you may want to tell everyone how interesting you are, being a good friend involves listening to others. Asking questions is a fast way to get to know people and make them feel heard. Ask questions using who/what/where/when/why/how, instead of just questions that can be answered with yes or no. As you listen, you can find your similarities which is a big part of building new friendships.

Build on Common Ground

Listening is the first step of making friends, but you cannot stop there. You will need to participate in conversations, too. If you are too shy to talk or don’t want to share about yourself, then people will not want to keep engaging. Find points of common connection to build on the conversation, whether it be in areas of movies, sports, favorite class subjects, hobbies, or plans after high school. 

Focus on the Few

Being popular doesn’t mean you have a hundred friends. There is a difference between being friendly and being a friend. It’s important to be friendly…say “hi” to those you pass in the hallway, smile, and look for ways to be kind. But being a friend means spending time with people and being available to listen and share. You will have a much happier school experience if you spend quality time with a few people than if you are just friendly with the whole school. Having close friends adds value to your life, and you add value to theirs. This is more priceless than 500 “friends” on Snapchat.

Be Yourself

Don’t change who you are just to fit in. There are many types of people at school, and lots of opportunities to make friends. Be patient, and keep looking for ways to meet new students. Stay open to learning about others. Your friends don’t have to have all the same interests as you. This is what keeps life interesting. You can share new things with each other. Friends should encourage each other to be the best versions of themselves. 

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul”

Proverbs 27:9 


Tiffanee M. Wright, MA, MPH | Executive Director
AHLI – International Education and Homestay

Reach out to me on WeChat to tell me how you’re feeling about the new school year!