Words to Keep Handy

Six strangers.

It’s always a bit intimidating to head towards a new experience. In a new place. With new people.

Maybe you’re starting a job, heading off to college, or traveling to a different country, either way you’re going to run into ‘strange’ people. While that may seem daunting and scary, it is a wonderful opportunity to open yourself to a unique experience or connection.

Growing up in suburbia outside of Louisville, Kentucky, I wasn’t exposed to much cultural diversity. Even Louisville’s famous Kentucky Derby Festival opening ceremonies, Thunder Over Louisville, turns the Waterfront lawn into a live People of Walmart, but with more fireworks and beer.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Italy, Greece, and Spain during a few weeks of my last two summers of high school. However, being shuffled around by teachers and parents did not provide many chances to really interact with the people able to offer real insight into the magnificent locations we visited. More recent trips abroad have allowed me to truly interact with the people and culture of my destinations.

College was a hub of strangers, eager and waiting to find and make new connections. It was here, in the small city of Bowling Green, KY, that I really learned about the importance of enjoying the ‘new’ parts of life. I transformed from an unknown freshman to being unable to walk across campus without running into someone to chat with. During my years at WKU, I was lucky enough to have a stable job working in the Ecology Lab, but to also have a boss/advisor/mentor that encouraged me to explore my options each summer.

So I did:

Summer 2006 – Chicago Botanic Garden
Summer 2007 – Kellogg Biological Station
Summer 2008 – South African Study Abroad
Summer 2009 – H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest
Summer 2010 – NMSU Algae Research
Summer 2011 – Kellogg Biological Station

And they were some of my best experiences to date.

I promise to share stories from my summer adventures and tales of some of the fine people I’ve met in later posts, but what I really wanted to share today is a poem that has stuck with me and inspired me (posted after the jump – click ‘Explore the Beyond’). It brings up some other aspects of talking to strangers that may not apply to the circumstances I focus on above, but I still enjoy the overall message.

Hopefully, I will be able to put these experiences to work helping me adapt to the unique group dynamics of an isolated Analog Habitat.

Question of the Day:
How would you deal with meeting and living with 5 others for 120 days?
Do you have any ‘ice breaking’ tips/tricks?

Also, you can find my answer to yesterday’s QOTD here.

Also, also, check out my new flag counter at the bottom of the blog. What an appropriate addition on Talk to Strangers day! Welcome all! Thanks to Timothy for the idea and help.

Talk to Strangers

By: Bonny Bonfiyah
Oh no little bitty Joe’s momma told
him not         to talk         to strangers.
Don’t talk to strangers, no don’t Joe, no, so
Little Joe didn’t talk to strangers, no,
Didn’t talk to the blind girl       at school
Didn’t talk to the janitors          eeyyoo
Didn’t talk to the mailman        mmm mmm.
Then he grew and he grew and he grew,
          didn’t talk to strangers.
Talked to aunts and cousins and friends of the family,
goin back n forth between big       houses, then frat       houses,
theeeeeeeen whaddya know Joe Schmo became CEO
          keeping strangers—
way up in the tippity top, glass office, what not.
Hey, he’s in the business of keeping strangers!
         Cuz he knows:
I might be mad at Mr. Joe,
(you know, for selling frankenfood for a huge profit whilst layin off half the staff to buy a convertible and a summer home in France with a Jacuzzi bath?)
Yes, indeedy, I might be mad,
but as long as I don’t know you or you or you,
what am I gonna do?
So for as many times as it has been told to you
I mean to undo I mean to undo it
Talk          to            strangers!
As long as Ms. Thousand Dollar Rent keeps Ms. Scrounging 50 Cents a stranger,
Ms. Extravagant won’t get Ms. Disadvantaged
is working hard for just barely enough
and has a true love too and reads good books too and here’s what’s true:
They know if we start talking we might start sharing
and sharing is scandalous; sharing is a solution
that starts with (you know)
talking to strangers.
Talk to strangers;
share your books, your food, your complaints,
your magazines, your movies, your worries, your stories,
your solutions.
Talk to strangers so we can share our STUFF!
FIVE, TEN, TWENTY-FIVE people livin in a building–
Do we ALL need a blender? 
Do we ALL need a subscription to Netflix? 
Do we ALL need a car? 
Divide and conquer, friends, look at it, there it is:
they keep us strange from each other so they can sell us shit separately. 
That’s it.  No mystery.
Sister starts making some money, they HOPE
she enters that big ole ongoing stuff contest with her
Instead of sharing it, she wears it. 
People: 0, Aeropostale: 2.
The only way to protest is to not participate. 
Share your stuff so you can shop less.
Shop less to protest and
‘bout the revolution
growing in your bones
the dis-chord among the formerly alone.
The unknown? Unh-unh!
Talk to strangers
let them know:
We don’t wanna be strangers       any mo
We don’t wanna be allowing        Joe schmo
to feed the rich by stealing from the poor.
Talk to strangers, y’all, talk,
tell ‘em it’s time.
Walk the streets, talk to strangers,
haunt the bookstores, the coffee shops,
bring your literature and your reserves,
talk to strangers, peace warriors, spread the word,
talk y’all, talk, yeah,
let those former strangers know:
To must emerge from the strangeness placed upon us,
we must be louder, to be louder, we must come together,
to come together, we must SPEAK together,
we must go, get out there, go, let each other know, go, now, please, go!

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