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“We all begin as strangers, and we meet people for two reasons – as a blessing, or as a lesson”.

So, today’s motivational quote is actually a fusion of two anonymous quotes I found, since I couldn’t pick between the two!  In fact, I was reminded of the importance of the topic of strangers and communication as I was teaching a new student this week. Since she wanted to work on listening skills, we were watching Kio Stark’s TED Talk on Strangers. 

See below for more on teaching Kio Stark’s TED Talk! Stark advocates opening the lines of communication between strangers.


On Meeting People

While not all encounters we have seem to be great parts of our lives, I really enjoy the idea that everyone we meet comes into our life for a purpose. Actually, I think today’s quote is right about that. A blessing or a lesson.  Whether or not our friendships and relationships all go well in the end, we definitely learn from them, don’t you think?

In fact, I have a short story to share about a family I met when I got into trouble hiking with my dog, Kiara, in May. It turned out to be more disorganized than expected. In fact, I was the only one on the trip who brought a full first-aid-kit. I was at the end of a hiking group I joined, the leader had left to find the others, and Kiara had basically collapsed on the trail.  Now, this is Spain, and the hiking trail signage is nothing like Canada. No map, no cell phone signal, no more water.  Luckily, we were near a small cove where a family was having a picnic.  If I hadn’t met them, I have no idea what would have happened.

Although they were total strangers, they introduced themselves, helped me give Kiara fresh water and sugar to get her energy back up. Then, they carried her 10 minutes uphill (she weights 33 kg) to the carpark, and drove us home, two and a half hours away.  Wow.  I was shocked, impressed and so grateful. (Kiara spent a week recovering – her paws healed and she’s as good as new).

Perhaps you read this news story last week about a “human chain” of 80 strangers that saved a family from drowning in Florida? It’s amazing what strangers can do when they come together.


4 Ways To Meet New People & Make New Friends

Friends bring new energy

1.   Join A Club –   Way back in Edmonton, Canada, 5 years ago I joined a running club on a whim. Kiara and I were new to running and at the back of the group. We met Dayna and her two dogs there. We’ve been great friends ever since. Actually, we ran two races together, having never run one before meeting!

2.   Try A New Activity –   So, if you know me, you know I set goals every year for my  personal, business, health and career ambitions. Actually, it usually involves at least one new activity per year and it’s such a great way to meet people. This year, I’m learning to swim properly (from scratch).

3.  Go on a Language Exchange –   Of course, this is a biased suggestion from a language teacher! In all seriousness, I think language exchanges are one of the best ways to meet someone. Since you are both helping each other out, it’s a fun way to interact in two languages.

4.  Choose an Activity from & Other Platforms –   In case you haven’t heard of meetup.comit’s one of my favourite sites to meet new people. Actually, it’s a great place to start when you move somewhere new. Over my last three years in Barcelona, I’ve joined meetup events for photography classes, language exchanges, skiing, hiking and sailing.

Oh, and in case you missed it, feel free to read all about my adventures with meetup groups in  my post on making new friends and what it can do for you.

Kio Stark: Why We Should Talk To Strangers

So, the first time I saw this talk, it made me ponder the cultural differences in the countries in which I’ve lived. It’s 15 minutes of your time, but it’s worth the time.  Next time you are on public transport, give her method a try. Comment on someone’s shoes and see where the conversation goes 🙂

By the way, if you’re an English teacher and haven’t had a chance to check out my e-book, 25 TED Talk Lesson Plans for Your English Class, it’s full of my favourite talks and plans I’ve written!

So, when was the last time you talked to a stranger? Or, when was the last time you make a great friend without expecting to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Have a lovely and productive Monday!




P.S. Photo fans, photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Salou, Spain in April 2016.

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