Adopting a 'Like' Friendship
How a Facebook group connected the lives of two freshmen
By Jenny Collins ’05
Whoever says Facebook takes the place of real friendship has never experienced its ability to turn strangers into friends. Over the summer on a Facebook group for Northwestern’s incoming Class of 2016, Kristen Roth ’16 was excited—and surprised—to see that Arianna Momsen ’16, another Northwestern-bound student, had posted that she was born in Colombia.
“Me too!” Kristen replied on Facebook. “When you see someone is from the same country as you, you can’t pass that by,” she said.
Discovering a shared culture, Arianna and Kristen immediately connected. Through Facebook chats and texts, they quickly discovered their bond went much deeper. When Arianna asked Kristen how she came to be in the U.S., an avalanche of similarities appeared.
They found out that not only were they both adopted from Colombia by families in Minnesota, but they were also born in the same Bogotá hospital just six months and six days apart and adopted from the same orphanage, Ayudame (“help me” in Spanish).
“I was crying when I found out,” admitted Arianna. “It was just that initial shock.”
Kristen was equally shocked. She literally got off Facebook and exclaimed to her mother, “You won’t believe what just happened!”
The two became fast friends over the summer, talking, texting and Skyping each other. They created a countdown to college and since they both lived in the Twin Cities, they met in August at IKEA for some last minute college shopping.
They connected again at Northwestern’s Multicultural Orientation, which welcomes international and multicultural students and celebrates the diversity represented on campus.
Both Arianna and Kristen’s parents raised them to celebrate their Latin American culture and immersed them as much as possible. In fact, their paths crossed unknowingly during their childhoods, attending La Semana, a Latin American cultural camp (where Kristen’s older sister was in the same group as Arianna). Each has been back to her birthplace in Colombia once before and their parents were part of the Parents of Latin American Children group.
Celebrating their culture
Though technically still teenagers, Arianna and Kristen possess a wisdom gained from having a global perspective.
“Some people take it for granted that they look like their siblings,” shared Kristen. “Being adopted, I look nothing like my sister and nothing like my parents. It kind of redefines what family is. That helps my faith. Because my family of God doesn’t look like each other at all.”
Arianna agreed. “We are all built differently. Sometimes people ask my parents if we are just a group because we look so different. That’s not offensive to me.”
What they do find offensive are ignorant and inappropriate comments about their birth country. “I’ve been called the granddaughter of a drug lord before,” admitted Arianna. “I was ready to smack that boy silly.”
Kristen has heard the same. “People make jokes about Colombia being a huge drug country and the drug lords. It’s very hurtful,” she said. “I even had an adult come up to me last year and ask me if I was from the area that made the drugs. I was very shocked a grown adult asked me this. It’s just very ignorant.”
Grew up in
Mounds View, MN
Oldest of four
Grew up in
Youngest of two