There is an inexplicable joy and fullness in feeling deeply connected to the people around you, and that feeling was apparent at Strangers in Colour. It’s an experiment in human connection, where people were blindfolded, paired with a stranger and invited to connect with them, heart to heart, without judgement. They were then separated, blindfolds removed and asked to create a work of art to represent how they ‘saw’ each other…It turned out beautifully!
We were amazed by the 16 participants who’d showed up in trust, ready to step into an experience that would take them out of their comfort zone. When everyone was blindfolded, we volunteers had to gently walk them around the café (Dialogues) to their seats at the conversation tables. That in itself was a humbling experience – taking their hands in ours, feeling their vulnerability as they depended on us to help them move around. They were given around 30 minutes to connect with their partners. We watched, absolutely amazed, as all 8 pairs of people were deeply engaged in conversation. They seemed so engrossed in the experience, everyone leaning in to truly listen to this new person they were getting to ‘see’, without seeing. It was so difficult for us volunteers to interrupt their conversation when time was up!
The second half of the experience was about creating a piece of art to represent this person they had connected to. It really wasn’t about expressing artistic mastery, but instead about taking the time to reflect and express what they had experienced in this person. The atmosphere shifted into a quiet and peaceful one, as participants focussed on their creations.
Finally after this, we introduced each person to their partner. There was such excitement and joy in the room as people now met each other without the blindfolds! The pairs then found spots in the café to continue their conversation, sharing what they had experienced and the thoughts behind their works of art.
All along, we were soothed by the beautiful voice of Jainy, a musician who had volunteered to play and sing for us. Her music was the perfect sound between the pauses, creating a space that made everyone feel comfortable, and at peace.
We wrapped up the experience with a circle of sharing where everyone was invited to share something that had stood out for them, or something they learnt. Some of the themes that came up were – our shared humanity, empathy and trust for strangers. Vasavi shared that the experience had been a reminder of how we are so much the same on the inside, in spite of our uniqueness and differences. Arpitha who had connected to a girl much younger than her, had seen herself in this girl, realising that we all walk such similar paths. Hamsa shared that the experience was encouragement to trust strangers a little more. Reuben was a little nervous at the prospect of having to talk to a stranger for 30 mins. Being someone who keeps conversation just to the point, it was a new experience to converse for the intention of connection versus just information exchange. We were amazed and humbled by the reflections that came up, and trust that in some way this experience will ripple into many more moments of human connection 🙂
Behind the scenes, our team of volunteers – Lakshmi, Priyanka, Akshay and Shruti were absolutely amazing, invisibly holding fort for all of these experiences to transpire 🙂
Also, here’s a special shout out to Keya, our very young volunteer photographer!