How to Care for Your Friend Coming out of the Summer

Dear Friend/Family of a BayUPer,

Thanks so much for partnering with your friend as they participated in BayUP this summer.


I wanted to offer some suggestions to you to help your friend transition back to their lives at home and school.  You may be surprised to know that the transition home is often harder than the transition to the new culture of the city.  This is because students often come back and have trouble communicating what they learned and experienced.  Sometimes they have a hard time finding people to listen to their stories.  Sometimes they are overwhelmed by the relative material wealth they return to their lives compared to the poverty that they saw in the middle of Oakland.


As their friend, it is good for you to be aware that the transition home can at times be difficult.  This can help you set appropriate expectations for your friendship in the first few months after they have returned home.  And there are some ways that you can help your friend make the transition back home:


  1. Talk to your friend before they return.  What would they like their first week to be like when they get home (they may not know for sure, but talking about it doesn’t hurt!).


  1. If you are picking them up from the project, remember that they are coming off of an intense summer emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  THEY ARE TIRED.  They may not be up for an immediate welcome home party, or all the relatives to descend on the house, or dinner out.  Most likely they will want a shower and some sleep.  Ask them what they would prefer.  They will appreciate your warm welcome.


  1. If you are not meeting them at the airport or picking them up, a card waiting for them at home or a phone call the day after their return is a great way to let them know you are glad they are home.


  1. The thing your friend will need most from you is your listening ear!  They want to tell the story of their summer, but often find it hard to know where to begin.  The question “How was your summer?” can be hard to answer because it is such a broad question.  Asking LOTS of specific questions is the best way to find out what the summer was like.  Here are some examples:


    • What was a typical day like?

    • What was your favorite thing about your summer experience?

    • What was the hardest thing about your summer experience?

    • What was the thing that was most interesting to you about the culture you were in?

    • What is different about how people relate to each other here compared to the culture you were in this summer?

    • What was the funniest or most embarrassing thing that happened to you?

    • What was the food like?  What did you enjoy?  Dislike?

    • What was your team like?  Who were the people you were closest too?

    • How were your expectations about your summer met or not met?

    • What did you learn about yourself?  About others?  About God?

    • What are some ways you want to apply what you learned now that you are home?

    • How does it feel to be home?  What did you most miss about home?

    • What do you miss about your summer culture now that you are home?


  1. You don’t have to ask all these questions at once!  Consider having a couple of extended times (at least) with your friend where you ask questions about the summer.  Maybe once shortly after their return, then again when the pictures are developed (if they are not already on a digital camera!)


  1. Periodically ask how they are thinking and feeling about their summer and how they are applying what they have learned throughout the fall semester.  


  1. Some other fun things you could consider:  


    • If your friend learned to prepare any traditional food from their summer culture, have a night where they make dinner (or at least one dish!) for you.  

    • Look through whatever souvenirs your friend returned with and ask questions about them:  were they given as a gift?  by whom?  what was that relationship like?  If it wasn’t’ a gift, what prompted them to buy this particular souvenir?

    • Invite other friends of yours and your BAyUP friend to hear about the summer.  Consider hosting a little dessert and let your friend tell his or her story and show some pictures to a group of people.


  1. It is ok to remind your friend that you had a summer too!  Life in your world did not stop just because they were on a summer project.  Tell them about your summer . . .


  1. Your friend may seem weird or respond to situations differently than they did before they left.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the changes you notice.  Let them know you want to care for them while at the same time giving them the freedom to change and grow.


  1. Help them to re-engage with their friends on campus and their responsibilities in classes and with InterVarsity by helping them brainstorm ways to integrate their summer experience into what they are doing now.


  1. Most of all, continue to pray for and with your friend.  Encourage them to take time for reflection and to be with Jesus.


The most important thing is just to be patient and ask a lot of questions.  Returning home is often as much a part of the growth process as the summer at BAyUP.  I believe the Lord is using all of these experiences to make your friend more like Him.  Thanks again for blessing your BAyUP friend with your prayers, support and encouragement.  May you also be blessed.



Yu-Shuan Tarango-Sho

BayUP Director


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