Starting my own ‘Stranger Project’

A simple hello could lead to a million things.

Gentrification has been taking over my city for many years now. It’s almost as if I didn’t have a choice to participate or not, I just got swooped up like I was a piece of furniture in a tornado storm to partake in this process. To say that I am against it brings lots of ironies. But in the past five or so years, I have learned a lot about myself to know that I am not entirely okay with the ever-growing divide between those who are buying million dollar homes and those who are struggling to find social housing.

Being a twenty-something year old who just graduated, I have a lot of problems of my own. I want to find a full-time job, I’m trying to save up for my next big vacation, I am trying to study for GRE, etc. Repeatedly I am talking about myself and my own ‘problems’, which really aren’t even problems, they are really just a part of life.

I’m not going to speak for others but I often get inspired by those who take the time out of their own lives to speak to complete strangers. For example, The Stranger Project (http://www.thestrangerproject.ca/) and Humans of New York (http://www.humansofnewyork.com/). When did we start to get so caught up with our own daily lives that we forgot about the very things humans are wired to crave and desire for – intimacy and communication?

I still remember a few years ago when I would walk down the streets of Downtown, Vancouver and I’d break a ten dollar bill just to hand out loonies to the homeless. I thought I was doing my due diligence. As I became older, I joined the Union Gospel Mission (http://www.ugm.ca/) where I learned so much more about the ethics of handing out money to people. I began giving out food whenever I could because while I have no rights to take judgement on what people do with the money I give them, I know I do not want play a part in a possible drug deal.

Finally with the beginning of 2015, I decided to start my own ‘stranger project’. Along with bringing some extra fruits and crackers with me whenever I head down to a more rough neighbourhood, I began talking to those on the street. With a simple, “how’s it going today?”, or “what’s your name?” and I was amazed at how quickly people were opening up to me. I don’t do this just because it makes me feel good, but I truly believe that this is what we’re supposed to do – to care for one another.

I am honestly quite a shy person because I overthink every single conversation and interaction in my life. But what I know is that I would not act on something I do not feel genuine about and I believe that being true and being yourself really transcends to the other person. So next time you’re walking down the street on your way to work or to meet a friend, take out those headphones from your ears and just look around and smile, because you really never know who would smile back.

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