“ ICE BREAKERS IN PROMOTING FRIENDSHIP “ by Stephen Smuim – August 2021

May 2004, I was fortunate to take my students from Odyssey School to
China with Billy Lee as part of an art/environment project under Institute
1990’s auspicious.
We traveled to Shanghai and Beijing as part of our tour, spending times at
schools and organizations showing our environmental art and interacting
with students.
Often there was no plan for these interactions and I jumped in and did
some ice breakers/warm ups that could mostly be done without language to
get the students to interact.
Billy has asked me if I would share some of these activities. As a
consultant at Stanford University now I use these experiences a great deal
in the trainings I currently conduct. While they are primarily for
teachers/trainers, they certainly could be adapted to anyone working with
students, particularly students possessing different languages. I hope this
audience will find some value in these activities that can lead to
FRIENDSHIP building. Or at least some fun at the Thanksgiving/Christmas
big family dinner.

Activity #1 Visual Learner or Auditory Learners?

Ask participants to raise their right hand.
Now connect the index finger to the thumb so you have a nice circle.
Place your circle on your cheek but tell them to place the circle on their
Is the group primarily visual learners or auditory learners?
Many people do the “slide from cheek to chin” move.

Activity #2 Can My Brain do Two Functions at Once?

Ask the standing group to place their hands in front of them in the ready to
clap position.
Tell the group that when you hands cross [not clapping] they are to clap.
Begin by crossing your hands and having them clap each time.

The question usually arises if when you recross your hands is that time for
claps. Yes.
Get them into a rhythm of clapping hands and then just move your hands a
few inches without actually crossing your hands and invariably people will
clap anyway.
It is good to tell the group you will buy them all a………if they can clap on
all the crosses.

Activity #3 Can You Count to Three?

Ask the standing group to divide into pairs and face each other.
Tell the group to count to three by alternating he says which number.
A; 1
B: 2
A: 3
Have them do that for about 20 seconds.
Now tell the group that instead of 1 clap their hands and don’t say 1
A; clap
B: two
A: three
Have them do this for about 30 seconds, the laughter will begin.
Now tell the group that 1 is clap and 2 is now stomp your foot.
A: clap
B: stomp
A: three
Have them do that for 30 seconds and have fun with the foul ups that

Activity #4 Is This a Stick?
Have the group form a circle and put a two foot stick (or anything else) in
the center of the circle.
Taking turns, a person goes into the circle and says, “This is not a stick”
and does something with the stick to make it something else. Puts it to his
eye and says, “It is a telescope.”

The next person coming into the circle puts the “telescope” to her eye and
says “This is not a telescope, it is a toothbrush.”
The next person comes in and picks up the stick and starts brushing his
teeth and says…and so the game continues.


Stephen K. Smuin, as former Founding Head of the Odyssey Middle School and
Nueva Middle School, is completing his 42nd year as an educator. Stephen then spent
19 years at Nueva Learning Center in Hillsborough, CA, an international recognized
elementary school for gifted and talented students and founded the middle school. He
left Nueva to become co-founder of Odyssey School, a middle school for gifted and
talented students.
Steve has taught on the elementary, high school and college level and has published
three major books: Turn Ons!; Can’t Anybody Here Write?; and More Than Metaphors.
Steve has given over 125 workshops in the United States, Canada, Japan, China and
Germany and is most proud of being invited to present at the World Gifted Conference
on two occasions.
Recently, Steve become CEO of Da Vinci Educational Consultants, which provides,
assessments, training, workshops and lectures in Japan, China and Stanford University.


BILLY”S COMMENTS : Stephen was a Most Delightful Director to the
Chinese students and teachers in Beijing and Shanghai.. The Fun &
Sometimes A Bit Embarrassing Games quickly removed all the
ANXIETY from being STRANGERS. We should have more of these
ICE-BREAKING FUN EXERCISES. Indeed, we all should try to invent
one or two such creative games in order to understand more deeply
how FRIENDSHIP maybe be initiated.

Group Counseling: Teaching Social Skills to Enhance Friendships in Middle School Students -by Emily Worsnopp – School Counselor – N.Y.State – U.S.A. – 2007

The purpose of this group is to help middle school sixth and seventh grade
students with poor friendship skills learn specific social skills to improve peer
. Group topics include identifying positive friendship qualities, learning skills to enhance conversation abilities, recognizing the importance of body language in communication, and learning how to effectively solve friendship problems. Students are referred by teachers via a form provided by the School Counselor or through discussion at a student’s CSE meeting, and the group is appropriate for those who have few friends, are shy or withdrawn or who display inappropriate social skills that hinder friendship
development. The group is formatted to be held in five 30-minute sessions, and each group is designed for approximately six students.

Offering a small group to enhance the friendship skills of middle school students is important for a variety of reasons. At this stage, friendships may be especially significant to a healthy social development because adolescents frequently look to their friends to fulfill their emotional needs as well as to practice their socialization skills (Lefrancois, 1999, p. 348). Students lacking this social network thus may not have the necessary opportunities to learn how to best interact with their peers. Furthermore, adolescents who are unable to develop quality friendships experience heightened anxiety about school (Sunwolf & Leets, 2004, p. 196). There also is evidence that inclusion in a healthy peer group predicts academic success for sixth and eighth grade students (Wentzel & Caldwell, 1997, p. 1206). School counselors are in a position to help improve the academic and social success of students who have difficulties making and maintaining positive peer relationships by designing a group to teach them specific social skills that they can use to improve peer interactions and enhance friendships.

Teaching Social Skills to Enhance Friendship
Session : What Does it Mean to Be a Friend?

Author: Emily Worsnopp
Grade Level: 6/7
Group Size: 5 students
Time: 30 minutes
Setting: Small office (counseling office or conference room) with chairs set up in a circle

ASCA Personal/Social Standard A: Students will acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and interpersonal skills to help them understand and respect self and others.
Objective: Students will be able to identify friendship qualities and discuss basic
friendship concepts.
Materials: 1 skein of yarn.
Ice Breaker Activity: The Spider Web
 Begin by explaining that the group will be doing an activity to get them
thinking about what friendship means to them.
 Give the ball of yarn to one student and ask him or her to name one quality
that they consider as important in a friendship. Have the student pass the ball
of yarn to another student to continue the “web” until everyone has identified
one quality that is important to her or him. Before “cleaning up” web connect
the image of a web to friendship (interconnected, reliant upon many parts,

Discussion: Have students continue to talk about friendship qualities. Some questions to ask include:
 Is your view of friendship the same as everyone else in the group? What is
 Why is a certain quality more important to you than others?
 Are there different ways to act with different friends? (ex: acquaintances,
close friends)

 What are some easy/difficult things about maintaining friendships?
 Do they have friends that have some of these qualities?
 What do they think makes them a good friend?
Homework: Introduce the idea of homework and explain its purpose in helping to
transfer the things discussed in the group to their everyday life. Have students pay
attention to interactions that they have with their peers until the next session. What
friendship qualities do they already exhibit? Are they happy with their friendships?
What is missing (from what they do and from what others do) Have students write self observations down and keep observations in friendship folder to discuss at next meeting.
Evaluation: Students evaluated based upon their ability to identify and discuss
friendship skills.

Teaching Social Skills to Enhance Friendship
Session : Conversation and Listening Skills

Author: Emily Worsnopp
Grade Level: 6/7
Group Size: 5 students
Time: 30 minutes
Setting: Small office (counseling office or conference room) with chairs set up in a

ASCA Personal/Social Standard A: Students will acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and interpersonal skills to help them understand and respect self and others.
NYS CDOS Standard 3a: Universal Foundation Skills
NYS ELA Standard 4: Language for Social Interaction
NYS Arts Standard 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts
Objective: Students will be able to effectively initiate and maintain a conversation and understand how conversation skills are important to friendship development and maintenance.
Materials: Conversation and Listening Skills worksheet
Follow-Up on Homework Discussion:
 Begin by having students discuss reactions to homework from previous week.
 What did they discover? How did interactions with peers make them feel? How do they feel about their current friendships?
 Have students name one of the qualities identified in Session 2 that they
 Transition to new Lesson: Expanding your social network and communicating
effectively with others:

 Begin by discussing why being able to effectively start conversations and
communicate with others is essential to developing successful relationships. It is
important to know how to start, continue and end conversations for success.
 Ask student to discuss what is scary/easy about starting new conversations, and what is challenging for them about having conversations, especially with new people.
 Pass out “Conversation skills and Listening Skills” worksheet and discuss.
 Have group members role play conversation skills (ask for volunteers).
Encourage all students to participate. Ask members to come up with situations
that might be challenging for them. Examples might include meeting a new
person, asking for help, pairing up with someone for a class project.
 Have student reflect on role-play. How did it feel to be the one initiating the
conversation? Responding?

Conversation and Listening Skills

 Approach with confidence.
 Make eye contact.
 Ask questions about things that interest the other person.
 Focus on the person talking.
 Get your point across without interrupting.
 Listen and respond actively.
 Close conversation appropriately. (“It’s been nice talking”,
“See you later”)

Teaching Social Skills to Enhance Friendship
Session : Understanding Body Language

Author: Emily Worsnopp
Grade Level: 6/7
Group Size: 5 students
Time: 30 minutes

Setting: Small office (counseling office or conference room) with chairs set up in a circle
ASCA Personal/Social Standard A: Students will acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and interpersonal skills to help them understand and respect self and others.
NYS CDOS Standard 3a: Universal Foundation Skills
NYS ELA Standard 4: Language for Social Interaction
NYS Arts Standard 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts
Objective: Students will be able to effectively demonstrate and describe positive and negative body language and relate these skills to friendship enhancement.
Materials: Body Language in Communication handout
Homework Review:
 Use “go around” method and ask students to share conversation experiences.
Were they able to initate conversations? What was difficult about it? What was
easy? Did they learn anything?
Transition to new topic:
 Explain the importance of body language for communicating.
 Pass out Body Language in Communication worksheet and discuss body language “dos” and “don’ts” and review worksheet. Practice body language styles on sheet, and encourage students to have fun with it, especially the “don’ts” category.
 Have students get into pairs. One pair at a time, have student briefly talk about
any topic. One person should talk and the other should demonstrate body
language “don’ts”. Have partners switch roles but now have the listener
demontrate body language “dos”. After each group has gone have students go
around the room and discuss behaviors that they noticed and how it made them
feel (as the listener and talker).
 Did members notice any ways that they (or others) use body language effectively
in the group? Go around and ask people how they think their body language
impacts how peers view them. How can body language impact friendship?
Evaluation: Students are evaluated based upon their ability to effectively describe and demonstrate appropriate and negative body language and discuss the importance of body language to friendship enhancement.

Body Language in Communication

The communication process is nonverbal as well as verbal. Behavior expresses meaning,
sometimes more clearly than words. To be effective in our relationships with others, we
need to be able to tune into body language and tone of voice. Did you know

 70% of our communication comes through our body language.
 23% of our communication is through our tone of voice.
 7% of what we communicate is through our words.

We need to pay attention to how we say things as well as what we say.

Dos Don’ts
Eyes good eye contact Stare, glare, jittery, no eye contact

Voice (volume) loud enough to be heard clearly too soft or loud

Voice (tone) tone communicates
understanding – disinterested, gruff tone, sarcastic

Facial expressions matches your own or other’s feeling; smile frown, yawn, sigh, scowl, blank look


leaning forward slightly, relaxed

leaning away, rigid,
slouching, crossing arms
Movement toward away
Distance arm’s length too close (less than 2 feet) / too far (more than five feet)

Teaching Social Skills to Enhance Friendship
Session : Problem Solving and Termination

Author: Emily Worsnopp
Grade Level: 6-8

Group Size: 5-7 students
Time: 30 minutes
Setting: Small office (counseling office or conference room) with chairs set up in a

ASCA Personal/Social Standard A: Students will acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and interpersonal skills to help them understand and respect self and others.
ASCA Personal/Social Standard B: Students will make decisions, set goals and take
necessary actions to achieve goals.
NYS CDOS Standard 3a: Universal Foundation Skills
NYS ELA Standard 4: Language for Social Interaction
NYS Arts Standard 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts
Objective: Students will be able to identify problem solving steps and apply them
effectively to solve interpersonal conflicts.
Materials: Problem Solving Steps worksheet for each student. Easel or
white/blackboard and markers/chalk for brainstorming activity.
 Explain to students that sometimes, even with good friends, we can encounter
conflicts with our friends that might be difficult to solve.
 Pass out Problem Solving Steps worksheet and explain that there are specific
steps that people can take to solve a problem with friends. Using these problems
can help to alleviate stress and avoid more difficult situations with friends in the
 Ask students to volunteer a situation (real or imaginary) that demonstrates a
problem that friends can experience.
 After a situation has been established, work with students to help them see how
they can use the problem solving steps to solve problems with their friends. To
help with choosing the best solution, have students discuss them and role play
some possible solutions. After role plays, have the participants and group
members discuss if the scenario worked, or how a better solution can be reached.
 Use the “go around” method to have each participant talk about what they feel
that they are best taking away from the group. Have they made progress with
making and keeping friendships? What has been useful to them? How confident
are they feeling about being able to use the skills in the group to help improve
their friendships in the future?
Evaluation: Students are evaluated based upon their ability to apply problem solving techniques to role play exercises.

Problem Solving Steps

1: Identify the problem.

2: Think of ALL possible solutions. Write them down if you can,
or talk them out with someone.

3: Think about the consequences of each possible solution. Ask
yourself “What could happen if I did this?” Think about how each
solution impacts you and others.

4: Choose the best solution.

5: Put the solution into action! If appropriate, practice the solution
with someone else before hand.


Brigman, G. & Goodman, B. E. (2001). Communicating with body language. Group
Counseling for School Counselors: A Practical Guide (pp. 167-168). Portland,
ME: J. Weston Walch.
Forth, S. (2004). Lesson 32: What is a healthy choice? New York State school
association comprehensive school counseling program: Middle level activity
book (pp. 73-75). New York: New York State School Counselor Association.

Hulse, C. M. (2004). Lesson 38: The spider web. New York State school counselor
association comprehensive school counseling program: Middle level activity
book (pp. 88-89). New York: New York State School Counselor Association.
Lefrancois, G. R. (1999). The Lifespan (6 th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing
Richardson, R. C. & Evans, E. T. (1996). Rules for listening. Connecting with others:
Lessons for teaching social and emotional competence, grades 6-8 (p. 82).
Champaign, IL: Research Press, p. 82.
Sunwolf & Leets, L. (2004). Being left out: Rejecting outsiders and communicating
boundaries in childhood and adolescent peer groups. Journal of Applied
Communication Research, 32(3), 195-223.
Waksman, S. & Waskman, D. D. (1998). Conversation Skills. The waksman social skills
curriculum for adolescents: An assertiveness behavior program (4 th ed.) (pp. 31-
35). Austin, TX:Pro-Ed.
Wentzel, K. R. & Caldwell, K. (1997). Friendships, peer acceptance, and group
Relations to academic achievement in middle school. Child Development, 68(6),


BILLY’S COMMENTS : This and the adjacent articles – ‘Suggested Questions for
Initiating a Conversation’ by GGSC and ‘Ice Breakers‘ by Stephen Smuin all focus on Methods. Indeed, TEACHING HOW is equally important as LEARNING WHY.


36 Questions That Can Help Kids Make Friends by Jill Suttie – Greater Good Articles for Educators – Greater Good Science Center

Using questions to build closeness

The 36 questions activity, also known as Fast Friends,
involves pairing people together and having them take turns
answering questions that become increasingly more
personal and require more vulnerability. It has been shown
to reduce prejudice and anxiety when people from different
cultures are paired up, but it has never been used as a
classroom-wide activity in middle school.

Time Required
45 minutes each time you do this practice. 
How to Do It

  1. Identify someone with whom you’d like to become closer. It could be someone you know well or someone you’re just getting to know. Although this exercise has a reputation for making people fall in love, it is actually useful for anyone you want to feel close to, including family members, friends, and acquaintances. Before trying it, make sure both you and your partner are comfortable with sharing personal thoughts and feelings with each other.
  1. Find a time when you and your partner have at least 45 minutes free and
    are able to meet in person.
  2. For 15 minutes, take turns asking one another the questions in Set I
    below. Each person should answer each question, but in an alternating
    order, so that a different person goes first each time. 
  3. After 15 minutes, move on to Set II, even if you haven’t yet finished the
    Set I questions. Then spend 15 minutes on Set II, following the same
  4. After 15 minutes on Set II, spend 15 minutes on Set III. (Note: Each set of
    questions is designed to be more probing than the previous one. The 15-
    minute periods ensure that you spend an equivalent amount of time at
    each level of self-disclosure).

Set I

  1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change
anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?


25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling…” 

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for them to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them [already].

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how they might
handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

You can try this practice with different people you want to develop a deeper connection with. Consider making up your own list of questions that become increasingly more personal. 


BILLY’S COMMENTS : I am very interested in the suggested sequence for posing the
questions. It seems that we should smart lightly and increasingly become more
personal and complex.



Billy Initiated :
I just noted the difference between the Eastern and Western approaches in
teaching the GOLDEN RULE. The Western approach is ” Do unto others as you
would want others do unto you.” and the Eastern approach is: ” What I do not
want others to do unto me, I shall not do unto them.” One is Active and the other
Non Active.
Cheers !

Joshua Responded :

Hi Billy – that’s quite interesting! Anabel Jensen advocates for “the Platinum
rule” instead: Do unto others and is truly best for them.

Anabel Clarified :

Hi William,
I hope you are continuing to thrive. Yea! Josh was close. I call it the Palladium
Rule—an extremely expensive mineral. And, the rule is to ASK what they want
and then provide that. The secret is in the asking not guessing. 
Yes-let’s have lunch and discuss.

Rick Hanson Added :

Billy, this is really interesting. It highlights how the Five Precepts in Buddhism –
as well as much of the moral teachings in general, and even the ultimate
realization – are expressed through negation, e.g., not harming, not stealing . . .
even not conditioned, not dying, not subject to arising and passing away.
You might know about Thich Nhat Hang’s reformulation of the Five Precepts in
the affirmative:  https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/the-5-mindfulness-
trainings/ . 

Obv, both approaches are needed. Meanwhile, yep, there seem to be some
ways that the different orientations – between doing/not-doing – loosely track what
some might see as Western/Eastern sensibilities.
Cheers back!



Do not do unto others what you would prefer being done unto you…

(especially if you are insane)

Do unto others what they would prefer being done unto themselves.

(unless it’s something harmful)
If there’s any doubt…

Do not do unto others what you would not have done unto you.



Friendship and Friendshipology: Interview with Billy Lee by US-CHINA BETTER RELATIONS COALITION – 2021

“Show real interest in who they are as fellow human beings,
and be not too judgmental by one’s own idealism. Cultivate
each other’s good qualities, and intrinsic goodness.”
Billy Lee

Interviewers: Inin Fan and Jackson Barkstrom
Editors: Emily Zhang and Jackson Barkstrom

In today’s interview, Billy Lee shares his thoughts on the importance of
global friendship and cross-cultural bonding, along with advice on how
to establish these cross-cultural bonds. As an individual who has worked
and participated in different projects connected with friendship, Billy
tries to promote mutual understanding and tolerance with an emphasis
on positivity and goodness of the self and others. The Friendshipology
website is one of Billy’s valuable projects where he helps share
meaningful stories and insights about friendship with the world.

To learn more about the Friendshipology website, please visit:


Billy Lee is a retired architect who worked early in his career with I.M.Pei. A graduate of Phillips Andover, he received both a BA and MA in architecture from Yale. Through an invitation by C.B.Sung in the 1970s, Billy joined an American delegation of architects lecturing at Tsighua University. Inspired, he ultimately established a scholardhip for young Chinese architects.

He is best known for numerous youth exchange programs through his Children, Art and the Environment Program, where he impacted over a million children. is proudest moment was the launching the World’s Children’s Mural Painting Park at the China National Children’s Center in 2008. An annual event, this program was proven to be an effective way to build Xin Xin Jiao ( Heart to Heart Bridges ) among children from different countries, backgrounds, and Cultures.



When and how was the idea of starting the blog about Friendship and Friendshipology born? 

I joined the US-China People’s Friendship Association South Bay Chapter in 2006, and was elected membership director in 2012. That started my serious inquiry on what friendship really means, and how it can be initiated, nurtured, sustained, and maybe recovered after some gross misunderstanding.

In 2015, I was invited to conduct a workshop on “Good Feelings” at the
International Child Art Foundation World Children’s Festival on the Great Mall in Washington DC, on a July 4 weekend. There sprouted the idea on guiding a group of international students to define friendship, write an declaration of interdependence, and propose an ideal cross-cultural institute on Friendshipolgy.

An amazing opportunity to start a project that may eventually lead to the ultimate ideal was a proposal to connect Stanford University’s and Peking University’s psychology departments to do a 3-year joint research project at both ends of the Pacific. The study was named “The Role of Emotional Values and Expression in the Development of Cross- Cultural Friendships in the US and China.” Our hope was this would initiate a momentum towards global engagement subsequently.

Although that proposal fizzled due to fund-raising difficulty, my dear 1990 Institute colleague Dr. Marsha Vande Berg, advised me to keep telling this story to my friends – To keep the idea alive! Surprise! Out of the Blue, a young friend, Yi-lu from Beijing, wrote to me and said she had set up a website https://MingSingLee.com (recently changed to https://Friendshipology.net), and had recruited three other young friends (Yihua, Wenmo, and Tingting) to help manage this bilingual website. I
started to post a few of my own articles onto the website but very wisely decided later to involve many of my close friends.

It is sometimes hard for people of different backgrounds/nationalities to establish a solid friendship with true bonding. There can be a wall between us that stays hard to break.  How can we build true and emotional cross-cultural friendships? 

I think we start with showing our own convictions and commitments, and make a real effort to reach out. Be kind, caring, empathetic, and respectful. Be patient, open-minded and appreciative about diversity. It always takes time to transcend from artificial to natural relationships. To start by reaching out mindfully. Show real interest in who they are as fellow human beings, and be not too judgmental by one’s own idealism. Cultivate each other’s good qualities, and intrinsic goodness.

You came to the U.S. for the first time at the age of 15. Can you share an early cross-cultural friendship experience and what you learned from it?

During my second year at Andover (for boys only then), I attended a tea dance at the neighboring Abbot Academy (for girls only then). Abby Emmons first reached out to me and taught me how to catch the rhythm and move step by step. She was kind and joyful. We have stayed friends after 72 years.

One year, I was invited to teach architectural design at Ningbo University, Ningbo – my ancestral home. The host professor warned me to keep apart one male student from a female student as they were in a romantic relationship. As I did not pay much attention to this particular warning, the professor was obviously very displeased. However, his attitude towards me totally changed one afternoon, as I saw his shoe
lace on his injured leg was loose and I knelt before him to tie the shoe lace for him. Before leaving Ningbo, he asked if I would consider serving as their honorary department head. This shows “paying proper respect” is especially meaningful in certain cultures.

You are a founding member of the 1990 Institute, and an active member of the US-China People’s Friendship Association. You initiated the C2C (Children to Children, Connecting 2 Countries) Exchanges, via The 1990 Institute –in collaboration with All-China Women’s Federation, China National Children’s Center, and China’s Environmental Protection Ministry. Do you see any progress in cross- cultural communication since the time you began working on this?

What I accomplished in China via the 1990 Institute, were most gratifying, but I really regret that 1990 did not follow up to support the International Students Mural Painting at China’s National Children’s Center. I think we needed just a few more years before CNCC understands the long-term historic significance of that project – annual gathering of international students to paint together in Beijing about
building friendship and protecting our common environment. Cross- cultural collaborative projects unfortunately grow or wane with political situations. Timing is important, but to allow enough time is also important.

Do you think that the pandemic affected cross-cultural friendship?

The pandemic certainly affected cross-cultural friendship. It should be viewed as an opportunity to confront our common cause instead of a convenient excuse to cover up one’s own weaknesses or a vehicle to promote fear and suspicion for political advantage. 

What are good ways for young people like us to promote global friendship?

 I am really glad that you emphasize global friendship instead of just US-
China better relationship. I urge you to consider this challenge a long-term commitment and a global challenge. I think you should do some checking on how similar youth organizations sustain for the long term. Obviously, climate change still needs youth support. Just a

few miscellaneous ideas here: Connecting students globally with a global journal, how about fight bullying together, learning each other’s most endearing songs, etc. Creating an indicator for measuring improvements, strategize on how to influence the influencers – youth, teachers, parents, activists, media, entertainment industry, and enlightened leaders everywhere. 

Important note:
Billy Lee and the Friendshipology website welcome more stories on how
Community Spirit affects individuals and how individuals can affect the
larger community. The website hopes to collect more inspirational and
educational case study examples and ideas which induce Friendship,
Bonding, and Good Feelings. If you have an article or an idea for a story,
please email Billy Lee at  WilliamMSLee@gmail.com . With your email
please also provide a short vita and at least one of your favorite photos.


GOOD FRIENDS PASS ON UPLIFTING STORIES TO ONE ANOTHER“ A friend sent me these and I thought you might like them too.” wrote Anne Gates – August 2021

Short stories that make us think twice about the daily happenings in our
lives as we deal with others:

Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class.  When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said,  “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you


Today, after my 72-hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the Grocery Store and gave me a hug.  When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her.  She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said,

“On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”
Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying.  And just before he died,

He licked the tears off my face.

Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed.  About 5 seconds after he passed,

I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy

Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?”  She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?”

Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said.

Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me.  He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said,

“I hope you feel better soon.”

Today, I was feeling down because the results of a biopsy came back malignant. When I got home, I opened an e-mail that said, “Thinking of you today.  If you need me, I’m a phone call away.” 

It was from a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years. 

Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe  He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. I offered him a sandwich I was carrying.

The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.”

The best sermons are lived, not preached.
I am glad I have you to send these to.


Anne Gates, Correspondence Secretary for Abbot Academy Class ’51, and I met at our zoomed virtual joint Andover-Abbot 70th Reunion recently. Although we had met before, we connected more sentimentally this time. She said very kindly, “ I like to be your new Friend.” Indeed, I embrace her dearly as my new Beautiful Friendshipology Friend, 友学 学友 , in our pursuit of deeper bonding and the Art and Science in Building and Promoting Friendship.



Snow was expected


Grodon L. Hammond Jan.2021

– – – during the night. However, it did not happen. It started to rain, and the train whistle blew three times. That meant the bridge had fallen. The engineer called for everyone to run. I got off and ran as fast as I could run through the trees. I saw a hobo camp and recognized 4 hobos. They offered me a cup of coffee. They were my uncles, and one was my father. He had abandoned his family and I didn’t recognize him. I asked him if he could repay the 5 dollars he had stolen from my piggy bank. He took up a collection from his brothers, and he repayed me. He died a month later.

I could see the Interstate highway and traffic was moving at 70 mph toward the river. I knew the road shared the bridge with the train. I tried to stop the traffic, and I knew there was a catastrophe ahead. So, I just sat down and watched and listened and prayed. The sound of train cars tumbling over and over, and the screams of car passengers, made me doubt the power of prayer. However, I saw people and children climbing out of the ravine and toward me. I helped some children to get into the cars that had stopped and turned around.

I recognized 2 young girls, they were hand & Hand and crying and their clothes were badly torn. However, they were my neighbors ! I could not find their parents. The girls said their father was using his cell phone. I don’t use a cell phone. Many people with cell phones can not remember the number for 911


Gordon is my first and best friend from Phillips Academy Andover as we were both assigned in 1947 to stay at Green House, Mastered by Mr. Harold Howe III, a history teacher who later became Secretary of Education in President Lyndon Johnson’s cabinet. I consider Gordon one of my best friends, for he, indeed, helped me prepare my homework while I was struggling desperately with the English language. Gordon also invited me to spend Thanksgiving at his home – my first Home Stay Experience in the United States.

Upon my request to write something for my Friendshipology website, he sent me this short essay with a newly published book called , “ A Run-Of-The- Mill Yankee Scientist “. Below is the cover of that book with a photo of “ That Handsome Dude.” The book is actually a Condensed Oral Interview of Gordon by Sanlyn Buxner in 2016 for the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Historical Astronomy Division.

The interview succinctly captured very personal family history as well as Gordon’s professional achievements and hobbies. I did not know that his father abandoned the family when he was ten years old. I am glad that he enjoyed and did well in Golf, Riflery, and Sports Car Racing. Wow, I am fascinated and impressed by his White Dwarf Stars Explorations.

I am particularly grateful that I am one of only five Friends he has so far shared this personal story book. His essay is still a puzzle to me, but I also can not remember why and when I started to address him “NODROG” in my letters to him. I think it was after his visiting me at Camp DeWitt at Wolfeborough, New Hampshire, before he departed to fight the Korean War.


Gordon L. Hammond

Prof. & Scholar/Research Scientist
Astronomy Program, University of
South Florida, Tampa, Florida 1986-


“ LOOKING ON “ by Dede Hammond – Published by Purpose – 2009

   Joshua Carpenter was saddened as the angry voices of his young friends and neighbors reached him through the open windows. Lori and Peter had only been married two years, and it sure sounded like the honeymoon was over.  Joshua knew money was tight for the young folks, but he wished they would pull together instead of blaming one another. It just made things harder for both of them.

   He so wanted Lori and Peter to grow and work together, as he and his wife had done.  He was 82 and his wife, Jenny, would have been 80 next week.  If only . . . Joshua’s thoughts drifted  back.  Times had been hard for them during the years, but they’d made out. He wished he could do something to help the young couple.  He wished he could tell them to be kind to one another, to cherish their time together.

   His gaze rested on the garbage can lying on its side by the street. Joshua got up from the porch rocking chair and walked slowly down the steps.  He quietly righted the can and picked up the things that had spilled. Then Joshua headed back to the porch.

   “You promised to help around the house, Peter. That’s all its been–promises!”  Lori’s voice came clearly to Joshua and his heart was heavy as he settled back in the rocker. “I took on that part-time job to earn extra money and I don’t have as much time as I used to. I’ve been trying to help.  What didn’t I do now?” Joshua could almost hear Peter sigh.

   “That garbage can!  That’s what.  That stray dog knocked it over and you promised to clean it up.” Joshua saw the curtain move as Lori came to the window. “Just look at that mess. ”  Lori’s voice trailed off. “Oh, Peter, you did clean it up.” “But Lori,”  Peter protested as he joined her at the window. “I’m sorry, Peter.  I’ve been so tired and worried lately and here I am taking it out on you. Please forgive me.”

   Joshua could see their shadows merge through the curtain.  He smiled as he watched them hug each other.  Their voice became a murmur as they slowly moved away from the window.




Dede is wife of my good friend, Gordon Hammond. They both love to write and

belong to a Writing Club in Zephyrhills, Florida.


FROM THE FF BULLETIN : Bro. Mike King, Sister Karen( near 60 ), and Bro. Ryan Pei ( near 30 ) brought orchids to present to Sister Linda Tsao Yang ( near 90 ) on behalf of FF Fraternity for her recent presentation at our FF Strong Webinar. She cooked them a really tasty & nutritious lunch.

Her elegant furnishings, a touch of Shanghai and Jiangnan in Davis, Ca.
Sticky rice, braised tofu and an assortment of Chinese vegetables

Sister Linda also shared a classic poem in a glass case. She suspects it may have inspired FF’s Chinese name. From what she described it seems very plausible.



This is really a story about KINDNESS – doing good deeds in helping others who need help ( Mike’s helping Linda at the Zoom ), Gratitude -expressing heartfelt thanks with open embrace ( Linda’s inviting Mike to enjoy her home cooking ), Adding Meaning to the occasion ( Mike’s idea of having FF Fraternity present flowers to thank Linda and introduce one of our younger FF Brothers to join the occasion and share the FF Family Spirit. ), Earnest Respect (shown by Ryan’s travelling all the way from Stanford, while pursuing his MBA, holding a part time job, and buying flowers for Linda with his new bride’s help ), Making Everything Worthwhile ( Linda’s providing a special culinary treat, sharing lessons from her own life challenges, and showing unique Chinese Cultural treasures like that Orchid Poem which may have inspired FF’s Chinese name . As Ryan reported,” Linda also shared with us her Family Principles (家训), written 30 years prior in 1991, which included the following notable excerpts:

  • “Be thrifty and hardworking. Don’t be greedy or vain. Neither arrogant nor meek, you must
    conduct yourself with honor and integrity.”
  • “In the real world of work, you’ll do well when you commit yourself to learning as a lifelong endeavor, to enriching your experience and expertise and to holding yourself accountable for what you do.”
  • “Human relationships are more often than not, the most challenging to deal with as you make your mark in society.”



There is such Special Warmth in this Elder’s Caring and Sharing with the younger generations.

There is such Earnest Focus in learning from the Elder’s Wisdom by the Youngest member.

There is such Delight for the Middle Aged in seizing this rare opportunity- and allowing Magic to happen.

Billy further gathered some Post-event Thoughts & Sentiments from each of the participants:

The Yougest felt truly embraced and encouraged. Ryan wrote: ” Perhaps the most
memorable sharing that Linda gave was admitting to failing accounting at Columbia Business School, where she graduated with a master’s degree in 1948. As an economics major, she admitted to feeling unprepared for the world of business. Despite this modesty, her many accolades in public and private life proved just the opposite. From her appointment by President Clinton to serve as Executive Director to the board of Asian Development Bank in Manila from 1993 to 1999, to her run as Chair of the Asian Corporate Governance Association in Hong Kong, Linda didn’t let one bad grade keep her from reaching unbelievable heights. I can’t wait for the
next visit. Hope to visit Linda again before the year ends. “

The Middle Aged wrote about Linda : “We were treated like Family. Karen and I were struck by her lifelong commitment to public service, while maintaining a very strong adherence to her principles and integrity. Her courage in the face of adversity throughout numerous times of her life was truly impressive. She’s not physically a tall woman, but she is a true giant in spirit! We will always remember and treasure this visit.” Indeed, Karen told me emphatically again at the FF Picnic last week , “ I wish more Young Women will have an opportunity to meet Linda. “

The Elder truly had the Future Generations and F.F. Family in her heart and mind. Linda wrote :

Dear Billie,
Mike, and Ryan are Yuelin’s FF brothers; Karen his FF sister.  All family to him.
So family to me too. Very happy they liked my simple home cooking.

I appreciate their generous compliment of me.  But whatever I achieved in my life, I owe it to my mother. She gave me my life. She also taught me and taught me well that it’s not wealth nor fame  but what I make of my life that counts.  She encouraged me to commit myself to learning as a lifelong endeavor, to hold myself accountable for what I do . Above all, I must conduct myself with honor and integrity. No excuses.

My mother’s teaching has done well for me. And this is what I would like to pass on to our younger generation. 

BILLY CONCLUDED: It’s so important that we encourage each other to make special efforts to Promote and Nurture Cross-Cultural & Cross-Generational Relationships and Friendships which we shall forever remember as “ WONDERFUL GOOD FEELINGS TO BE TREASURED “.


“ARCHITECTURE & COMPASSION” A SUBJECT THAT TRULY CONNECTS ” Billy Lee from Portola Valley, Ca. connected with Sophie James from Plymouth, UK. Via DEZEEN DAILY

Billy approached Sophie on July 17, 2021

Dear Ms. James,

I was impressed by your The Astronomer and The Sea project in

today’s issue of Dezeen.

I am an 89-yr-old retired architect who still has naive questions

occasionally about what our goals are in our professional pursuits..

Lately, I have posed a question to myself: ” Can Architecture induce

compassion ? ” I find that your The Astronomer and The Sea “

seems to have a certain quality that inspires.

I love to hear your thoughts if you can spare the time to write to me.

Cheers and thanks !

Billy Lee


promoting Friendship

Sophie James repied on July 30th :

Dear Billy,

Thank you so much for getting in touch, it is amazing to know that my work has reached so far! I am so glad that you enjoyed the sample of my project – The Astronomer and the Sea – it is a project that brought me a lot of joy to work on. I have attached my final presentation in its entirety if you would like to have a look.

Throughout my three years of studying architecture, I have been amazed by its ability to open up conversations and questions such as the one posed by yourself. Compassion became a key theme in The Astronomer and The Sea – how could architecture begin to evoke an emotional response to the climate crisis? The project itself took inspiration from my dissertation essay in which I explored how events are remembered and commemorated and how spaces take on the memories of their traumas. The spaces can then become an emotional tie for those affected or a truthful insight for generations to come. This line of enquiry lead me down the path of Daniel Libeskind and his use of voids in the Jewish Museum Berlin. Bringing this thinking into my project, I incorporated void spaces which stripped back all views to focus the visitor’s eye and mind towards the sky.

A similar thread has run through many of my projects, dealing with notions of history and memory – whether that be locational or sociological memory. A previous project of mine dealt with the idea of storytelling as a means of remembrance. In short, people visiting the proposal were encouraged to write notes and memories on seeded paper which could then be ‘planted’ on a communal wall. Once the seeds within the paper had flowered, a live wall of the people’s memories and stories would appear – In a way I feel like this approach begins to induce compassion through architectural proposal, maybe the compassion is encouraged through the collective nature of remembrance. I would hope that seeing the communal live wall and the memories that had been shared would encourage others and make them feel comfortable enough to add their own memories, engaging withe the remembrance process. Whilst this maybe is not purely the architecture encouraging the compassion but rather the activity within it, the act of storytelling and the collection of memories were so integral to and embedded within the architecture that I feel one would not exist without the other. The project named ‘The Photosynthesis of Memory’ is included in my online portfolio – https://www.instagram.com/sophie.james.architecture/ – I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sorry for my delayed response, I felt I needed to give your question the time it deserved. I look forward to hearing from you,


Sophie James

3rd Year Architecture Student
Plymouth, UK