Hear Me Out

Axel Meta, March 2016

This is not a marketing text, these are my feelings as a worker for Sharood.

The words used in this text do not accurately describe how I feel about this Sharood experience because it was much richer than words can let on. 

Part of my job is to use Sharood almost everyday. I usually like to go to Sharood meals in order to better understand the Sharood experience and see what we can improve. l look at all aspects from the process of saving a seat, to saying goodbye at the end of the dinner.

Today my day had started a bit differently: at 11 in the morning I met with a person from the University of Amsterdam who wanted to do research on the Sharood community. We talked for an hour and a half. The researcher focused a lot of the questions on the kinds of conversations that happen while Sharooding, as opposed to "normal" situations. I answered, without much thought, that they were the kinds of conversations that would happen in any context if a group of 2-5 people meet for the first time. I said, hey, Sharood just enables and enhances the interactions that would otherwise happen naturally, too. I told the ethnographer that once you open a door, you gradually feel comfortable with the person and the interactions flow naturally. What I think is special is that the "awkward" preconception of meeting new people via Sharood is not something visible. This means that getting acquainted with new people is simply just the process of getting from your house to your host's house or vice versa. Once you shake hands, the meeting of new people is over; what starts is the interaction between people.

Later that day, at 18:45, I was in the center with some friends and I got notified that there was a Sharood meal. It was my natural call of duty to see what this experience would be like to improve Sharood a little bit more (and let's enjoy some great food and meeting new people). When I arrived to the host's meal, I was remembering the questions that the ethnographer asked me in the morning, but I tried not to influence the dinner conversation to just get feedback. I was curious to see where it would go. By the end of dinner, the attendees (including me) and the host had not only shared the house and food, but also our heart. Besides talking about Italian, Dutch, Chinese and Spanish culture, other gossips and fun things, we talked about how we perceive ourselves versus how we think we are perceived by others. This led to us talking about our strengths and weaknesses and telling anecdotes of our past. This was the special part: talking so openly about our past with a group of people that had never met prior to arriving at the host's home.

It was no group psychology, just a conversation while having some Chinese food. None of the attendees are what you or I would consider unusual people, but we all share the fact that we are not perfect human beings. Today I felt like I made a difference by attending this Sharood meal. I feel good because we were not only sharing food but we were sharing our stories. We all had a good time and continued talking even as we were in the corridor leaving to go back to our routines. This brief moment of our day, where we were Sharooding, had a big and inspiring impact: it was authentic sharing. I noticed that Sharood is not only about sharing food, it's about sharing our everyday lives.