Members of four teams comprising local and international exchange (IE) students, who had undertaken service-learning (SL) projects in Hong Kong, were interviewed about factors influencing cohesiveness within their teams. They indicated that a major barrier was language-related and could result in the withdrawal or exclusion of IE students. Students also identified three factors that fostered cohesiveness. These were: (1) local students’ willingness to conduct meetings in English; (2) local students’ readiness to provide interpretation and translation at external meetings; and (3) the willingness of IE and local students to establish reciprocal and empathetic relationships. Students reported that the benefits were improved English language skills, greater flexibility and broadened horizons. We offer suggestions about to prepare local and IE students to work together on SL projects. Copyright © 2019 The 3rd International Conference on Service-Learning (ICSL).