Published: Oct. 26, 2015

In my four years at CU-Boulder, I have had my share of time-consuming, overwhelming, Stranger challenge
nearly impossible and just very despicable class assignments. Especially when the latters are engineering ones. However, as you go up the years and figure your major main track out, you tend to enjoy more specific and targeted assignments. Thus, I had probably one of the most fun assignments this past week for my senior project class. Because computer science students are notoriously known to not be the most outgoing people, generally speaking, this assignment was designed for them break out of their shells.

My senior project, being extremely entrepreneurship driven, involves heavy interaction with people we don’t know. We must go out, leave our personal computers alone for a moment and interact with potential users, customers, industry persons, mentors, investors and more. “Each person should upload a PDF containing a photo taken with a stranger . . . you will present this photo and describe your experience.” This was the assignment requirement. How exciting (and absolutely random) does it sound? Let’s just say I knew I was going to Stranger challenge
love this assignment: having a good reason to convince absolute strangers to take a not-so-awkward picture with me; that was going to be fun!

One last requirement though, was to take the picture holding a piece of paper that explicitly says “I do not know this person.” Obviously, not everybody was excited about this homework and there was an alternative to this. If you could not find anybody to pose with you or if you simply really, really, really didn’t want to do it, you could just snap a picture of yourself holding another piece of paper saying “I failed. And that’s good,” which we were told happened quite a few times. Nevertheless, it is OK to be shy or lazy (or both), but when you are in campus with over 20,000 students, that cannot be a valid excuse anymore.

In my case, all I had to do was wander around a crowded place on campus like the UMC, in the hunt for friendly looking faces. Make sure to target people sitting or at least people who did not seem to be in a hurry. Also avoid those who look grumpy and cold. I think most students on campus would not mind taking a friendly picture with you . . . at least after you successfully prove them that it is for a class assignment. In that case, do not hesitate to take your phone out and to show them the requirements. At least, I did.