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Friday, February 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

Your task: meet as many strangers as possible, create friendships

By Pamarla Tien-iam-arnan     10/28/14 4:48pm

Rice University is like summer camp. I’m meeting new people all the time, and they’re all so chipper. Our school seems to place a lot of importance on students getting to know each other, and I appreciate how easy it is to find interesting people.

However, since Rice has so many students, we don’t have that much time to spend with each one. That’s a problem, because some people take longer to get to know than others.

Think about how you might have missed out on the musi who taught you to listen to classical piano differently if circumstance didn’t force you to sit through FWIS together three times a week. Who else might we have missed out on simply because we didn’t stick around long enough for them to make a remark that piqued our interest?

This concerns me, because I don’t connect with a lot of people right away, perhaps because, as a foreigner, I lack common experiences to draw from. It is less of a deficiency on their part or mine than our very human inability to recognize things we’ve never seen, and this is beautiful. It means that, to varying extents, all of us are learning to form new kinds of friendships which inform our perspective of the world.

When we do make new friends, though, we learn from them by indirectly making their experiences our own. And that’s valuable; all too often, we fall into the habit of keeping company with those who are similar to us because it is convenient.

So get to know the boy who talks to homeless people in Hermann Park, or that girl who you always manage to make easy conversation with but don’t see enough of. Make time for them; we can and should take advantage of the community of fascinating people we have yet to understand.

We’ve come to rely on instant connections as a metric for how well we’ll get along with other people, but relationships are founded on openness and commitment. Let’s bin the notion that we find friends and adopt the practice of creating them instead.

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