60(ish) Seconds: Talk to Strangers

CapU instructor Masaji Takei discusses why he makes his students talk to strangers.


The thing that I like to do is encourage, well, force students, is to talk to strangers.

I teach a course that I describe to folks as “journalism for people who don’t necessarily want to do journalism.” These students are required to interview people to gather the material they need: the fundamental understanding in order to write their pieces.

Humans are still the richest source of knowledge, insight, inspiration available.

But pretty much in any course that I’m teaching I try to figure out a way to have students interview someone, preferably someone they don’t know.

Why? Because I believe that it’s a highly transferable skill, useful in just about any profession that they will find themselves in.

Even for their personal lives, this ability to form new connections has profound implications for their well-being. We know now that loneliness has impacts on health on par or greater than smoking or obesity.

Anyway, I maintain that it’s actually fun. Even if they find it daunting at first, students have reported that they’ve found it to be one of the most rewarding parts of the process. And one encounter has the potential to open up the student’s world in ways that they can’t possibly anticipate.