On 27/1 (Sat) morning, nine students from S3 to S5 attended the Coffee with Strangers activity. Students gathered in Sham Shui Po MTR station before heading to The Bridge+ together, where the activity was held. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Ming Lok, the organiser of the activity. We were briefed about the activity, where each student would be paired with one “chatter” to participate in one-on-one conversations with each other while enjoying their coffee. Some studentswere excited to talk to someone they have never met, while some were nervous.
Students were then seated in their assigned table with their chatters sitting opposite of them. They would then engage in a 30-minute conversation with one another, while enjoying the coffee they ordered earlier. Towards the end of the chat, a postcard was given to each student as souvenir.
After 30 minutes, the conversation time ended and students had to bid farewell with their chatters. Students headed upstairs to have a debriefing session with Ming Lok. Students shared what they chatted with their chatters. Some talked about their dreams and aspirations, some complained about school being too hectic and stressful, and some are very curious about their chatter. Some students mentioned that they opened up about their backstory, which they would not even talk about with their families and friends. This led to the question – why would you be willing to share your private and delicate side to a stranger you have just met? This brought us to reflect on the purpose of this activity, that is, to have an “authentic chat (真·傾計)”. The students and the chatters are just a passerby in each other’s life. They would meet each other for a mere 30 minutes, but in these 30 minutes, they are showing the truest side of themselves. Students and chatters presented their authentic self to each other from a first-person perspective, an image, and a vision of themselves without the stereotype that was imposed on them by the others, and this is what makes the chat authentic.
Students were then asked to evaluate their experience in the activity, and they all reported that it was a positive one. The opportunity to have someone to lean on for a while, to open up themselves and be vulnerable for 30 minutes, makes the experience an enjoyable one to all the students. The students are inspired by the activity, and are willing to pay it forward with actions – to offer a pair of ears as a listener to people around us, even as a stranger.