“At some point, wasn’t it easy just to walk up to someone in the playground? It wasn’t a struggle to say something appropriate.”
Anesh never lets a language barrier stop him from talking to anyone he meets, and he doesn’t think you should either. His Toronto ESL students become confident English speakers by starting conversations with strangers in public places.
When a multiple homicide in Robbie’s Florida community hit close to home, he wanted to do something to help. So he began a foundation to encourage strangers to talk to each other—to comfort and support each other, and to find solutions to problems like gun violence. He believes he’s not “training” people to talk to strangers so much as reminding them how to do something most of us instinctively understood as children.
We chat about the great things that can happen when people start talking to each other; the things that can go wrong, and how to handle them; and the best way to start a conversation out of the blue (a simple compliment goes a long way!).
Anesh Daya has been teaching, managing, and developing English as a second language (ESL) programs in Taiwan and Canada since 2001. In 2009, he started On the Spot Language, an innovative activity-based English language immersion program, which he developed to help students effectively use their English outside the classroom. On the Spot Language has won several awards, including the Jusoor Disruptors Lab Competition. In 2017, students voted it BEST ESL school in Toronto.
Robbie Stokes Jr. holds a degree in Management Information Systems from Florida State University. After graduating, he launched Stokes Consulting Group; he also assisted the national president of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, in Atlanta, GA. He relocated to Washington, D.C., where he was an event coordinator for a congressional delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Finally, Robbie decided to follow his dreams, and founded “I Talk to Strangers”, a social movement whose philosophy encourages and challenges individuals to create genuine relationships through meeting new people. His motive is to push a new idea: that meeting new people increases personal and professional opportunities, experiences and lessons learned. Robbie has traveled the world, meeting people, documenting his journey through a soon-to-be-released film and book, participating in numerous speaking engagements, and encouraging everyone he meets to talk to strangers.