The Hello Project

Few of my students had trouble with the first part of the assignment (work given to students):

Identify a kind of person you don’t like or makes you uncomfortable and describe what it is that you don’t like or makes you uncomfortable.

Everyone had trouble with part two:

Find someone like that. Spend some time with them – take them to lunch or have coffee with them – and talk to them for at least 20-30 minutes. Learn as much as you can about them.

The third part was always the best:

Look at your answer to part one, then write about what, if anything, changed.

Something always did. And when we talked about it in class, we discovered quickly that talking – and more importantly, listening – to someone can change ideas about other people that we had believed, often for many years.

During last year’s election campaign (political activity before a vote), reporter Yvonne Leow felt that too few people were talking – or listening – to each other. She believed that many people forgot that “we’re all humans at the end of the day trying to understand each other” and did nothing about it. That’s why she started the Hello Project.

Leow is a second-generation American – her mother was born in Cambodia – and the two of them have often had trouble understanding each other. Their relationship began to improve when they sat down to talk about themselves – Leow calls it storytelling. Her mother grew up in Cambodia, she in the U.S. They had had different experiences while growing up and, as a result, looked at life differently.

Leow wanted the Hello Project to help people connect with each other and to share their stories, like she and her mother had. In her invitation she wrote, “We know our country is divided, and we want to see if individual conversations can help” make a difference. We want to encourage “understanding, not necessarily agreement and . . . learn from each other.”

More than 100 people signed up to talk. One of them, a reporter from Washington, D.C., talked to a retired school teacher in Phoenix, AZ. Their backgrounds, their lives, and their hopes and fears were very different. But after they finished talking, they shared their email address and agreed to become pen pals (people who write each other). Others had similar experiences.

Leow is hoping to continue the Hello Project. She writes that we as people and the world we live in are complex (difficult to understand) and asks if we can accept and respect each other for that. The Hello Project’s answer seems to be, “Yes!” Especially if we continue to talk to each other.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English website.

Photo by Steve Garfield used under Creative Commons license

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7 Responses to The Hello Project

  1. emiliano says:

    We say here in my country, Spain,” talking people understand each other ” “hablando se entiende la gente” and it seems to me that this girl Leow had the same idea.
    Just talking and listening each to other it is the best way to follow doing this complicate journey more easy.
    Sometime it is really difficult, you know that quite well Warren, even more complicate when two persons speak or write in different language.

    Having the man or the woman in front of me and looking their eyes it is more easy
    at least in my own way of acting out but sometime this is really impossible.

    Today I could remember nearly a full conversation or writing despite they have happened long ago, that is easy for my mind now, tomorrow I don´t know. That
    helps me to understand just a little better at my interlocutor or my conversation partner.
    That is good or bad? I don´t really know but is so.

    It happens also with a face, why? just a mystery.
    I don´t forget a face but a name at the following second I forget it.

    A name means nothing, a good conversation means absolutely, but a face in front of you with a good talking that is the best.

    Bye friends.


  2. emiliano says:

    If I have to reply the first question it would be:

    When she or he is using the phone or looking at it continuously
    not being able of turning it off being in public, with other person
    or even at home or a bar with me.
    I use to go out home alone and sometime I could see friends
    or a couple looking to their phones.

    Puffff, that is terrible, I don´t really understand or could not
    put up with that inappropriate attitude that frequently open
    my ming to think about what is happening now round me.

    Take it easy friends and not be like me being so critical
    with the new habits.

  3. Peter says:

    Tell me about it Warren
    The inter-generational gap u brought up today has an on-going predicament around here for decades.
    And , let me tell u, The gap is getting wider and wider.

    u rally can’t expect to resolve the deeply seeded issue by just organizing some speed inter-generational chit-chats :)) events between the people in both side of the spectrum: the immigrants and their North-American-way-of-life exposed children 🙂

    People come here to start fresh, to work and raise their kids away from the set of principle and values they so dearly adhere to.

    And my good man , it is exactly where a lot of stuff get lost in translation.

    They try hard to bring up their children with the culture and values they believe in and more importantly familiar with. But , what those parents most fail to see is that their children constant exposure to the values of the land render their endeavours pretty much null.
    Children growing up ,Interact with surroundings totally different with their parents both culturally and socially.
    All make plains that it is almost impossible to bridge the disparities

    The result is just a transitional confusion
    That work itself out only through generations to come


  4. Peter says:

    U know ,the post totally resonate with people up here in Toronto or perhaps Canada at large.
    It hits home particularly for me. I have married friends with one or two kids going through the same connodrum u mention in the post. They live under the same roof with totally distinctive perspective and attitudes towards life as if they live in two sepearte worlds.
    And it is not just it!!

    To me , the biggest challenge is : “miscommunications ”

    Parents have a tendency to speak their mother tongue whereas kids tend to stick to English.
    I daresay, In majority of cases , parents can’t convey their values to their kids or developing some sort of kinship fog what their kids standing for.u see what I mean.

    They are fluent in two separate tongues.
    Well ,sure , both sides understand each other through some choppy
    Language. Yet ,Not adequate enough to transfer concepts and values that may have no relevance to their kids anymore

    in this dysfunctional atmosphere how one expects that said parents could play role models or set examples for their own kids.
    So if u ask me , what bring up the kids around here is the rules of the new land not those of their folks.
    In my book , It sure created a division which again will only be sorted out through the passage of generations


  5. emiliano says:

    Peter, I do think you have put your finger on the weak spot clearly and promptly talking about the problems immigrants have in Canada or even in other countries where the language and habits are different from their parents culture.

    Nice to read your posts.

    Happy St. Patrick to all Irish and Scottish people.
    Madrid´s monuments are green too.


  6. Peter says:

    Hey Emiliano ,
    I really appreciate u take the time to read my stuff
    It means a lot bro.

    The truth is , I have been experiencing this first hand. So , I though , going about it at a different angle might put it on a different light.
    You know , the gap is an issue around here that the government never takes lightly
    There are nemerous classes for new comers to assimilate themselves both culturally and linguistically ,so to speak.
    And , u know , let me tell you , English coffee is an ingenious move towards that end.
    U know, I think it is safe to say that u are ,like me ,an ardent participant around here. I think I speak for both of us saying that We listen to every lesson trying to take away , in other words ,trying to absorb fresh materials jeff and Lucy have been offering us for ,boy ,over a decade or so. U know , I daresay that if ,one day, you decide to come and live up here, u will never go through the typical first few-year of culture shock. U know why ?
    It is because u have ealpod in ur bag. You will find urself familiar with the law of the land. By that I mean, with the way things are around here.
    And let me tell u ,The culture talks our dear prof ” jeff “has going on ,on English cafe lessons is the culprit here ,for most part :))))
    U know why , because throughout the past 11 years we went through the assimilation process already , through and with Eslpod.
    All I mentioned about is a good preface for the point I m trying to make down below.
    U know , before Eslpod days ,I was totally rough around the edges. I was all over the place both in language and culture front

    However ,10 years in , I m as cultural focused as it can get.

    You see

    I bet my bottom dollar Emiliano , if one day u decide to come live here.
    North America will feel like home.
    And I believe , we owe a big thank to jeff ,Lucy ,Warren ,Jessica



  7. Peter says:

    I feel compelled to say , first I was having a hard time adjusting to the freshly minted eslpod website design. I was so frustrated ,rather frazzled trying to find my bearings around the new format.
    Dense that I m , it took me time to learn the ropes , in other words ,to find my feet .
    But ,I m eventually there.
    I must say , I m warming up to the new ways around eslpod.

    thanks eslpod for ,once again, exceeding my expectation.
    What else is new, right !?

    Thanks Lucy , I m really enjoying the diologs.

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