International Survival Kits

“It’s free!”  Don’t we love to hear that phrase?  That’s the idea behind the International Survival Kits (ISK) strategy.  These kits are actually gift bags which you can give away freely to international students.  The bags contain helpful goodies, some practical and some spiritual.

Here’s how the ISK process works.  Set up a display table in a high traffic area of campus, or just near campus.  On your table you’ll want to have some things to draw attention to yourself–like a big sign announcing, “Free Gift for International Students!” and a display stand of small international flags (can be purchased on the Internet, (  As students come by, you can say something like, “We have a free gift for you!  Where are you from?”  Just introduce yourself, show them a bag and its contents, and explain that you have a 5-question questionnaire that you’re asking everyone to fill out.  Explain that, as a way of saying, ‘Thank you’, you’re giving away the ISK gift bag.

Have a questionnaire and pen ready to put into the hands of each international you meet. A questionnaire or some other type of contact card is vital for helping you to gather a list of students’ names and contact information.

The best time to distribute ISKs is at the beginning of the semester when the students and volunteers involved with your ministry have time to sit (and stand) at your table, and when new students are eager to meet new people.

Putting together an ISK is simple, but there are some costs involved.  First you will need to purchase a good number of small gift-sized bags–try to avoid using a plain brown lunch bag.  Next you’ll want to purchase a combination of practical as well as spiritual items to put in your bags.  Four of five items will work nicely but if your budget allows, you can do even more. And speaking of budget, you might be able to obtain free items (pens, pencils, Frisbees, notepads) that contain advertising for local companies.  Just make sure to deal only with reputable businesses!

Here are some suggestions for the items to put in your Here are some suggestions for the items to put in your ISKs (approximate prices for bulk purchase are given).  Feel free to come up with even better ideas:

  • A Bible (paperback editions are available for $2-$4)
  • A “JESUS” Film DVD ($1)
  • A brochure or info sheet about your ministry (virtually no cost but crucial!)
  • A highlighter ($1)
  • A granola bar (.50)
  • Laundry detergent tablets for one load (.50)
  • Mechanical pencil ($1)
  • Post-it notes ($1)
  • The book, “More Than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell. ($2)
  • An oversized paper clip (inexpensive but popular)
  • Kleenex pack (.40)
  • Nail trimmer ($4, perhaps too pricey)
  • Ramen noodles (cheap)
  • Ear plugs ($4)
  • A pen ($1)