Sometimes asking questions that are a little bit different is a great way to get the conversation heading in a deeper direction.

When you look at the face of the child or teenager you sponsor, do you feel like you know him or her? You’ve asked him about his life and family. She’s told you her favourite colour and subject in school. But do you feel like you know her? And in turn, do you think he knows you?

Sometimes asking questions that are a little bit different is a great way to get the conversation heading in a deeper direction. They can help you get more of a glimpse of your child’s personality and begin to truly understand who this special person is.

For this blog of letter-writing inspiration, we took our cue from Teresa Dawn who, in addition to sponsoring three children, corresponds with 45 Compassion assisted students around the world!

Here is a list of a few of the creative questions Teresa has asked her Compassion family of pen pals. As a bonus, we’ve included some of their responses to her as examples of how a child’s personality and what’s important to them can come out and shine. We hope these seven curious questions (and their answers) inspire your creativity to dig a little deeper in your relationship with the child you sponsor!

1. What would you do if you were given the opportunity to invent a new law for your country?

  • If I could make a law for my country, it would be that those who are in need must be taken care of. – Erickson, 12, Kenya
  • I would pass a law for my country that alcoholism doesn’t exist, and also a law against child abuse. – Olga, 11, Bolivia
  • If I could write the law, I will help people in Thailand to not use drugs. – Chokchai, 10, Thailand
  • If I could create a law for the country, it would be that no one can be selfish. – Linda, 13, Peru
  • If I ruled our country one day, I would do something in the field of education for children who are not able to attend school. – Kajal, 13, India

2. How do you prepare the meal you most commonly eat?

  • My favourite dish is stuffed rice and this is how you cook it: First we take a pot with water and we put cooking oil, garlic, green peas and carrots in it, and then you pour the rice in it and wait until the water dries up and that’s how you cook this dish. – Pamela, 17, Peru
  • My favourite food is soto. How to make it: We made the broth of chicken or beef and put it with chicken or beef, onion, and serve it with rice. You can add chili or soya sauce to make it more delicious. It is served hot. – Cris, 13, Indonesia
  • We like to eat bananas and beans. We boil beans and water until it is ready to eat. After we mix the beans and banana and we boil again until the food is ready and we put it in the dish and we put it on the table and then we eat them. – Esperance, 13, Rwanda

3. What is one of your New Year’s resolutions?

Creating News Year’s resolutions isn’t necessarily a custom in every country. Why not take the time to share about the custom and then ask the child you sponsor what they would like to resolve to do this year?

  • To pray every day for my country and for people who do not know Christ. – Eby, 12, India
  • This year my resolution is to get promoted with good marks. I also hope this year to become a person who obeys his parents. – Cris, 11, Indonesia
  • My New Year’s resolutions are: To do well in my studies in my senior year 2. I want to start a business at home. I want to be more perfect in making sweaters this year. This year I want to be a helpful person. I want to be a hardworking person in this new year. – Zaina, 15, Uganda
  • My goal is to study and succeed this year, and next year. I want to have success and to go to secondary school. – Esperance, 12, Rwanda

4. Where would you travel to if you could visit anywhere in the world?

  • I would like to visit Italy and its streets of water. It must be very different and beautiful. Here, we don’t have streets like that. – Caua, 10, Brazil
  • I would love to travel to Entebbe Airport. I would love to see the aeroplanes which are flying to leave, and those which are landing. If I could travel in one of the aeroplanes, I would go to Canada, Asia and America. – Zaina, 14, Uganda
  • I want to visit you and if I could go to anywhere in the world, I would want to go to your house. – Chokchai, 10, Thailand

5. How can I pray for you?

Instead of just telling the student you sponsor that you are praying for him or her, get specific. Ask exactly what you can pray for.

  • Please pray for me to become a clever and good adult in the future. – Naomi, 6 Ghana
  • Please pray for me to have a smooth relationship with my family. – Tsigereda, 18, Ethiopia
  • Please pray for me, because both my parents have now passed away. – Pince, 13, Indonesia
  • There was a murder here yesterday. Please pray for us so we will all be safe. – Pince, 14, Indonesia
  • Would you pray to thank God for all that He did for me? – Romli, 15, Tanzania

6. What have you done recently at your Compassion centre?

Each child development centre around the world is different. Their activities, meals, events and classes all vary depending on the needs of the children and community. Learn what it’s like directly from the student you sponsor!

  • A spiritual retreat was conducted for all the college children in our hostel. I participated in that. We prayed for all ill people, widows, orphans, those who are in trouble, for our centre’s children and our sponsors. – Guguloth, 20, India
  • In our centre we have learned about how to be respectful of our parents. – Atta Kuma, 14, Ghana
  • At the centre I’ve learned to be clean, to take care of my body, and to not be abused. – Genoveva, 7, Ecuador
  • The student centre and church moved to a rented house for one year because they are building a new church and a student centre. I am praying that they may finish soon. – Keila, 12, Bolivia
  • We celebrated Independence Day at our centre in August. – Kajal, 12, India
  • We went for three days to Camp Kottayam with Compassion. We enjoyed that camp very much. The theme of the camp was “Choices.” We studied songs, actions songs, and Bible quizzes. That camp was very helpful to my life. – Eby, 12, India
  • *My dental checkup at the centre was the first dental checkup I have had. *– Naomi, 7, Ghana
  • Right now I am learning at the Compassion centre that the Lord came in this world to be born in a manger in order to give us eternal life. – Estevenson, 13, Haiti
  • Our Compassion centre conducted a Central Cluster Sports Meet from the 14th-16th of January. Our centre children participated in the games and sports and won many prizes. The overall championship trophy was won by our centre. – Guguloth, 19, India
  • In our centre, the first Friday of every month is a special Devotion Day. – Kajal, 10, India
  • Here at the centre we had a beautiful celebration for Father’s Day and I gave my dad a beautiful wallet. – Caua, 10, Brazil
  • At the centre we just got uniforms and all of us have to wear the uniform to enter the centre. – Pince, 13, Indonesia
  • Last July we had our Nutrition Month at the centre. We had a parade and we bring a hat with a fruits and vegetable chart. Then in August we had our Filipino month. Everyone must wear a Filipino costume and whoever had the best costume wins a prize. I also joined the Folk Dance at the end of the Filipino month. – Clara, 12, Philippines
  • At the project I am learning to pray, to take baths, to brush my teeth and to be obedient. – Genoveva, 7, Ecuador
  • A few days back there was a two-day long medical camp organized at our center. All the children were nicely examined by the doctors. Children who were unhealthy were given medicines. – Kajal, 10, India
  • *In an LDP [Leadership Development Program] conference I learned about Emotional intelligence. As a leader there is need to control anger. By doing that you look wise and knowledgeable even if you are not. Ha ha *– Epher, 23, Kenya (LDP Student)

7. What do you want to know about me?

What better way to understand how they want to know you too? We love these curious questions they had for Teresa!

  • What makes you happy? – Tsigereda, 18, Ethiopia
  • Who is the man you love the most in your life? – Pince, 13, Indonesia
  • Please tell me what helped you to succeed in school. Did you set goals? Because many things make people drop out of school. – Zaina, 14, Uganda
  • How do you celebrate your birthday? – Estevenson, 11, Haiti
  • What does Easter mean to you? – Zaina, 15, Uganda
  • What is your hobby? – Cris, 10, Indonesia
  • Can you tell me about ice cream with soda? I would like to learn how to do that. – Franklin, 8, Hondurus
  • What was your dream to become when you were a child? – Tsigereda, 18, Ethiopia
  • What do bears look like? – Zaina, 13, Uganda
  • Do you use grasshoppers to make a sauce? – Zaina, 14, Uganda
  • *Do you practice sports while pregnant? *– Estevenson, 12, Haiti
  • Sister Teresa, have you ever written a novel? – Cris 10, Indonesia
  • Are you from a great family? – Estevenson, 12, Haiti
  • Can you send me a photo of your brother’s cat? – Eby, 12, India

For true relationships to happen, you need to offer glimpses into your life and world too. This month, choose one of these questions to ask the child you’re investing in but also take the time to answer it yourself in the letter. Maybe you both want to travel to New Zealand and you didn’t even know it!

Why not write a letter online today?

This content was correct at the time of publishing. Compassion closed its programs in India on 15 March 2017 and no longer works in that nation.

Words by Eryn Carman, Social Media Specialist for Compassion International

This article originally appeared on the Compassion blog.