HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2021 from Billy Lee 李名信

Thank you, Dear Friends, who help sustain my Hopes as always. Must share some Good News with you – see below: 

NATIONAL CONVENTION AWARDS – USCPFA from john marienthal to uscpfa-southbay@googlegroups.com


Our national convention just finished. Two people were recognized for special awards. The late Gerry Low Sabado for promoting friendship on the regional level and  Billy Lee receiving the National Friendship Leadership award for his work in developing Friendshipology . This was the 20th national convention. We are hoping to be able to send the link out soon for the entire convention as it was recorded.


Indeed, Expressing Gratitude is not to close a chapter, but to generate more Hope and more Dedication to Building Good Feelings among us.



BILLY’S HOPE : ” A Call For An International and Cross-Cultural Institute on Friendshipology “ an article published in Women of China magazine, August 2016 issue and the very early fifth article in <https:friendshipology.net>


3 Emotional Intelligence Tips to Help You Collaborate Better by Michael Miller @ Six Seconds

Have you ever worked with someone with whom you just didn’t click?
It’s one of the most common and difficult challenges people face at
work. While it will inevitably arise, our choices matter in how we
respond — it can worsen over time and make you, them and others
miserable, or it can lead to growth and learning, improving your
ability to work with all types of people. The key difference is engaging
with emotional intelligence.
Here are 3 emotional intelligence tips to collaborate with a coworker
you don’t click with:

  1. 1. Make them good.
    Just to clarify, it’s not possible – or your responsibility – to make your coworkers “good” in the sense of changing them. “Make them good” means
    shifting your perspective away from just thinking negatively about them. There’s a phrase I came across years ago that helps me on this shift toward positivity, whenever I am frustrated by a coworker. The phrase: Everyone is doing the best they can with the awareness, knowledge and experiences that they have. It’s true even when someone’s behavior negatively impacts you – makes your life difficult, or miserable, or drives you nuts… they are doing the best they can with the awareness, knowledge and experiences that they have. That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t change, of course. It also doesn’t mean you can’t communicate, or set boundaries and expectations. It just means that they are doing the best they can right now. When we accept that, and make them good, that’s the first step toward getting out of this cycle of negativity and maybe even becoming real allies.
  2. Suggestion: Try to shift from judgment to curiosity. Instead of statements like,
  3. “John is always so negative,” try asking questions like, “I wonder why John tends to respond negatively in x situations?” Be careful that your language doesn’t describe people’s faults as permanent characteristics – there’s ample
  4. research that people can change – even deeply embedded patterns. Even still, we often speak as if there’s absolutely no possibility of change, which itself is an impediment to change.
  1. 2. Bring awareness to your bias.
    In this context, I am referring to your confirmation bias, the basic psychological
    tendency to perceive information that confirms what we already believe to be
    true. In spite of our best efforts, we’re not objective. Everyone suffers from
    confirmation bias, whether we’re aware of it or not. We see and hear what we
    expect / want to see and hear, based on our previous knowledge and
    expectations. This is quite literally wired into our brains: we create “reality”
    through a combination of our senses – what we’re perceiving now, and our
    memory and previous experiences. But there are actually way more neural
    connections running from memory than from perception. Of all the stimulus that comes upon our eyes, ears and noses every day, we consciously take in about 1% of it. In a world full of complexity, this is a shortcut the brain takes to work efficiently and save energy. We’re always filtering; we have to. But this can create a vicious cycle with coworkers we don’t click with, because we tend to interpret their words and actions more critically than we would others’ words and actions. We may hear them, but through a lens of past hurts and disappointments. When we bring awareness to this tendency, however, we can actively work to compensate for it and make sure we’re giving everyone a fair shot.
  2. Suggestion: If a coworker you struggle with says or does something that you
  3. interpret as a slight, or criticism, ask for clarification. There’s often a gap between what people mean to relay and how others interpret it, especially when there’s a history of animosity, and the bridge between the two is honest and open communication.
  1. 3. Find ways to be successful together.
    I’m very conflict avoidant. Just pretend like it doesn’t exist and everything’s fine! The only problem with that strategy is there will come a time when you will have to work together, and if you haven’t built up any trust – or worse, built up mistrust – that is not an ideal starting point. It could even be on an important, high stakes project! An alternative solution? Look for ways to be successful together, then celebrate those successes and try to build off of them. Take the initiative to “win” together and build at least a little of that trust with low stakes.
    Suggestion: Choose a small project to do together, or seek them out to help with
    a component of something you’re working on. Then celebrate the success, express genuine gratitude, and try to cultivate the positive feelings that may have been hard to come by in your relationship so far. It’s tempting to think of emotions as something that happens to us – and in some sense, they are – but we also have the power to create emotions.

Collaborate Better with Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is being smarter with feelings. It’s bringing thoughts and
feelings together in a healthier, more productive manner. I hope you find these
tips to be a helpful way to shift the emotional dynamics in a positive direction.
All 3 of these tips fall under the Choose Yourself part of the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence.

BILLY’ COMMENTS – Nov. 10, 2021 :
Friendshipology is the study of the Art & Science in Making Friends and Building Friendship. Friendship and Friends indeed should not be taken for granted. Trust we must develop, and ideally our Love extends beyond just a small selected circle.
Michael Miller’s and Six Seconds’ efforts in trying to enlighten us all are indeed deeply appreciated. Many thanks, Michael, for allowing me to publish your article here !

“MISSION” – “HUNT’ – “MATCH” –are Amalia Dea Lencis’s favorite words as her PHOTO-ART reaches out to EMBRACE THE WORLD with JOY & LOVE

Berlin: element of the “broken chain” steel sculpture and.. Renzo Piano’s Debis building
Venice : lagoon waters – elements of Venetian carnival and architecture
New York : Callas Dancing with Windows
China, Yunnan Water festival: girls dancing by a pond and a banana leaf
Egypt : human “shadow” facing “Eternity” as Pharoah Ramses
Sri Lanka: Amalia self portrait ( one of her first embraces )

” The drive, inspiring the mission of freelance travel-writer and photographer, stemmed from my desire to scout, embrace  the beautiful pleats of the world and pass their fragrant intimacy in words and images … (So far, eyes and heart have embraced some 65 countries, their charm visualized in hundreds of reportings– photo essays, signed Amalia Pellegrini,  full bred Italian heritage)

Along the way an  accident  drove photo-journalist Amalia  to develop, embrace  a new mission, with a new name: Amalia Dea Lencis.
It happened in Upper Egypt,  at Karnak, by the Nile.

When taking pictures of Ramses Pharaoh’s temple,  a fault in the camera Nikon F,  caused the over-exposure of the  films, hence useless  for any magazine editor.

Nevertheless I did not throw the films away . Actually they inspired my 3rd eye to explore, one by one,

by hand-lens, the hundreds of over-exposed slides laid on the light-table. 

Hence I started  a challenging, intuitive multi hours HUNT… seeking, selecting,  overlaying the slides .

I was emotionally over whelmed whenever  the “match” ( just one slide over the other ! ) visualized a composition as an  alchemic synthesis, an architecture of elements beyond imagination… 
Actually a vision whose  elements connect, entangle  in a harmonious,  unpredictable  embrace..

Today  artist  Amaliaoverlays  the photos of her digital camera  with a  digital tool. Nevertheless  it’s still  and always her 3rd eye that plays the rhythm, leads the  dance, composes …”just  Embrace”.

My challenging Hunt, creative Pleasure, world-wide  Mission is  still in  progress…

by Ramses accident ?.

Amalia Dea Lencis  8/8/2021


“ HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEAN “ a poem by my sister MLK ( Merle Lee Kwong )


My sister, Merle, apparently enjoyed The Atlantic’s Friendship-Files,

I send her. She wrote back to me this morning :

Hi Née Goo goo  ( No. 2 Brother ) ,

Writing really helps to express what is at times hard to express verbally to others 

Many years ago I wrote this to wish my best friend Jean , Happy Birthday .

She was an avid gardener and a wonderful, wonderful person .

She died just two months ago .

We became close friends after meeting at the hospital where I am at now – as volunteers 26 years-ago .  In the later years We both were tied to our homes because of caring for our husbands. We wrote to each everyday till she passed away.

Finally , now I get to enjoy wiggling my toes without any pain, and they are shipping me out to rehab this morning .  Where I hope to stay as long as I can and get the benefits of daily therapies. 

Thank you for sending me the friendship file     MLK ( from the hospital )


This is for my friend , Jean.
She nourishes all seeds she sown.
And smiles , while watching them grow.

My friend Jean .
Seeds to Grow

Spring is in full flirt mode.
Springs on us , in one deft move.
A surprise, long awaited.
Much to do.
Much to enjoy.

A new sun , dazzles the fleeting mist.
A flash of rain , clears the air.
Earth warms.
A welcomed bode for nature’s growth.

Last year’s daffodils , nodding to the sweet breeze.
Wild weeds sprout, intruding the tilted soil.
Let us weed , to make room for the better.
Even though, they too, are plants of nature.

Calendar in hand.
Almanac a ready.
Gardening gloves on and we are ready.
Seeds of spinach, lettuce, sprinkled on fresh soil.
Bulbs of garlic, beets and potatoes nestled deep.
Multiple seeds planted to harvest and to enrich.

Grow ! Grow ! Grow !

Wait !  Other seeds , she sows…..as well.
She sows seeds of kindness.
She sows seeds of joy.
She sows seed of friendship.
Let these seeds be blessed as well, by sharing.

Sow ! Sow! Sow!


“ 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.