Image ‘Person wearing silver ring and bracelet photo’ by Leon Wu, via Unsplash, free to use under the Unsplash licence.
Employed by the United Nations organisation, the International Day of Friendship encourages ‘friendship between peoples, countries, and individuals’ to ‘inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities’ (UN 2023). The UN endorses friendship as a means to promote and defend ‘a shared spirit of human solidarity’, where a sense of international community can work as a kind of ‘safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where we are all united for the greater good’ (UN 2023).
Sunday July 30 is the International Day of Friendship, and this year we are celebrating the theme: “Sharing the human spirit through friendship”. Human spirit refers to the characteristics inherited in ourselves that recognises the value in our peers, colleagues, friends, and family. Then, specifically through the qualities of developing and maintaining friendships, the day encourages us to recognise and celebrate the positive values in our community.
The UN further writes that the International Day of Friendship uses companionship as a means to ‘inspire peace effort and build bridges between communities’ (UN 2023), especially in an age where international conflicts can divide our communities. They encourage young people to realise their leadership potential and harness their ability to promote an international understanding and respect for diversity.
As we approach the middle of the year, begin new units, or start new courses, consider how you can share the human spirit through friendship and embrace the available tools to foster friendships. Catherine Manning for Metro Magazine argues in favour of social media, encouraging friendships through using the internet as ‘a tool, not the problem’ (2020:94). With these tools on hand, ‘there’s no shortage of places to find new friends’ (2020:94), and that social media is the perfect way for us to share human spirit through camaraderie.
Furthermore, it is now more important than ever to see how we can build on the human spirit around us by encouraging friendships inside and outside the classroom. Psychologist Ana Borges, while targeting her discussion toward the experience of migrant students, writes that friendships fostered in the classroom encourage inclusive learning environments, and in turn, students have better marks and school experiences. ‘Friendships… promote learning,’ and ‘friendships among people from diverse backgrounds are seen as fundamental for children’s development of the ability to accept difference and be accepted’ (2015:25).
UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan (2023) Group of friends playing at a beach in Gaza Strip [photo], via United Nations, accessed 21 June 2023.
So! This International Day of Friendship can work as a timely reminder to both check in with your friends, and to encourage those around you. Supplied by RIC Publications, here’s a range of activities to celebrate this International Day of Friendship:
Prepare some small presents for your friends, like chocolate or a handmade card. You may even like to tie a ribbon around it for a personal touch!
Read and share stories about friendship within group chats. Show your appreciation for each other with memories, stories, and kind words.
Reflect to yourself or in a journal about what friendship means to you. What makes friendship so special to you?
Make friendship bracelets.
Consider your classroom and how both yourself and your peers may benefit from a sense of inclusion, encouragement, and positive learning spaces; ‘foster a culture of peace through education’ and ‘support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge’ (UN 2023) through digital tools to share friendship; and share your human spirit through friendship this International Day of Friendship.
All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
Alike it’s award-winning sister novel Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton’s mesmerising Australian historical fiction All Our Shimmering Skies follows the events of WWII and is ‘a love letter to Australia and an ode to the art of looking up—a buoyant, beautiful and magical novel, abrim with warmth, wit and wonder’ (Booktopia 2020). The surprising unlikely friendships play out in the adventure-filled bildungsroman to draw the reader across the Northern Territories shimmering sky.
Available from the East Campus Library.
Respectful Relationships by Justin Healey (ed.)
Healey emphasises the importance of respect within his ‘Issues in Society’ collection, using this text to examine how young people can negotiate their relationship needs respectfully and safely in partner relationships, friendships, and family relationships. From peer pressure to managing anger and conflict, this is a must-read guide for young people to help navigate and behave in respectful ways in both friendships and relationships.
Available from the City Campus Library.
Where the Trees Were by Inga Simpson
‘About the innocence of childhood and the scars that stay with you for life’ (Hachette 2016), Where the Trees Were is a friendship-fiction novel that follows the story of Jay and her four childhood friends over seventeen years. The reader is transported to the banks of a river and into the streets of Canberra, where the novel uses friendship as a value to inspire growth and community.
Available from the City Campus Library.
Words by Ashlee Simpson, Library Officer.
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Borges A (2015) ‘Learning through friendships: What are migrant girls learning with their school peers and how could it be improved?’, Redress, 24(1):25-29, 10.3316/informit.442606043492880.
Manning C (2020) ‘Peer to peer: Helping teens navigate friendship in the age of social media’, Metro Magazine, (205):92-95, DOI: 10.3316/informit.329896774752883.
RIC Publications (16 July 2019) 15 activities to celebrate International Friendship Day, RIC Publications, accessed 21 June 2023.
United Nations (2023) International Day of Friendship: sharing the human spirit through friendship, United Nations, accessed 21 June 2023.