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Yep. We’re new to these here parts, and things were mighty lonely around the ranch. Our compound is brand new, and more than half of the homes were empty when we moved in 2 whole weeks ago. With 3 very social children, I needed to do something. Fast.

One evening, my son and I went out on a friend finding mission, but with no luck. Another evening, I spotted a girl on a bicycle riding by our house – as I bolted out the door to make her acquaintance, she had ridden away. I swear I ran down the street after her, but she was so speedy!

I decided we had to step things up a bit, so we walked up and down the streets, noting which homes had trampolines – a sure sign of children in residence.  During one of these excursions, we spotted a girl on a scooter, quickly apprehended her and collected her. We also added her brother to our small friend collection.

Another evening, as my daughter and I were walking down our street, we heard a little voice say “hello”. We later realized that the voice had come from the house across the street, which contained TWO friends! Since we were on a roll, we decided to kick it up another notch and stalk some boys on bicycles. Once caught, however, they were too afraid to speak. At least the American ones were. The Italian boy spoke. And spoke. And spoke. He was so sweet and friendly. While attempting to communicate with the tween-aged American boys, an entire family walked down the street and we added them to our entourage.

Now, I am proud to say that we have met and befriended about 10 families in our compound, and we are quite proud. With school starting tomorrow, my children will quickly fill their contact lists on their iProducts. I’m hoping to skim a few more mom friends off their lists!

The other day, our doorbell kept ringing as more and more children came into our home. Our rented purple sofa was a huge attraction and they were all sitting there happily together – all 10 of them! Quiet Americans and chatty Italians. Happy together.

I’ve actually started a list of house #’s and the names, ages and schools of the people inside. I suggested that everyone tattoo their house # on their arm, but that idea has not caught on yet.

So, here is what we’ve learned so far about making new friends in a foreign country:

  1. Stalk. Stalk. Stalk. Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself.
  2. Smile. A lot.
  3. Listen. Silence is OK. Don’t try to fill the void by talking about yourself.
  4. Don’t try to be anything other than yourself. There are 23 million people here in Shanghai, so what if that one person does not like you for who you are? There are 22,999,999 more to try.