Activity Information
Recommended Audience International Students, Study Abroad, General, Community Member, ESL
Length of Time 30 - 60 minutes
Resources Ice cream (or other snack that will require a plate/bowl, paper plates/bowls, spoons, different colored balloons or other group identifier, different colored labels/markers to match balloons.
Number of Participants 15 - 100+
Source of Activity Used during Graduate Student Orientation to promote interaction between American and International students.
Purpose This activity helps people of different backgrounds find commonalities among each other as well as embrace their differences. It is especially successful helping international and American students get to know each other and promote interaction.


  • Estimate the number of people you expect at your program/event, then divide that number into groups of 10 – 12. The number of groups you have will determine the number of colors of balloons and labels/markers you will need.
  • Determine how you plan to designate the groups by color, matching their ice cream bowl to the color of a balloon. Example: Use the same color label on the bowl as a balloon, then participants with a green label should find the green balloon and that will be their group.
  • Decide which questions you would like the participants to discuss, you should have one question for each member of the group. Number them in order of how personal or how deep of information they request (least invasive first). ALL groups will have the same 10 – 12 questions. Some example questions include:
    1. What is your major?
    2. What are your hobbies?
    3. What is your favorite movie?
    4. From where does your name originate and what does your name signify/mean?
    5. If you were to invite a new friend to dinner and you could cook your favorite meal, what food would you prepare?
    6. Where is your hometown, and what is it known for?
    7. Prior to today, how many people from this group did you know? When and where did you meet them?
    8. What was your most memorable moment as a child?
  • Print labels for each question. If you use different colored labels, make sure every question is printed once on each color label. Stick all the labels to the bottom of the bowls and make sure the colors are mixed up so you don’t have a bunch of friends together in one group. You can also hand-write questions in the corresponding colors or use different colored ink instead of labels on the bottom of the bowls if you prefer.
  • At this point all you need is the ice cream (or other snack).


  • You should now have areas set up with balloons designating the color participants should match with the color of the question on their bowls. There should be 10 – 12 questions for each group, all groups have the same questions, and each set of 10 – 12 questions is coded with a color that corresponds to a balloon.
  • As participants arrive, give each of them a bowl and a spoon and then instruct them to match the color on the bowl to a balloon and sit next to that balloon. (Try not to give people you know are already friends the same color.)
  • Once everyone arrives, introduce the activity to all participants. Ask them to begin with the person who has questions #1. That person reads the question out loud, answers it, then the rest of the group answers that same question. After everyone has answered the first question, the person with question #2 starts the same process again. This continues until all questions have been answered by everyone.
  • As participants are answering questions in their groups, facilitators and/or volunteers walk around with the ice cream (or other chosen snack) and fill bowls.
  • This activity is complete when time is up or when students start running out of things to talk about after they have finished their questions.