A TEDx talk I delivered at Westminster College, "How to skip the small talk and connect with anyone," has reached over four million YouTube views. The feedback from this talk has landed me halfway across the world to research how Big Talk can be applied to Intercultural Communications and Conflict.
Thank you for all of your on going support!
First, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I want to say thanks for being here. :)
Second, here is a “Big Talk Thanksgiving” activity you can try out tomorrow at dinner surrounded by your family, friends, and guests. (Scroll to bottom of page to download).
Third, this is also an update about life for loved ones, and kind acquaintances around the world who show support / interest in seeing Big Talk grow. Since August 10, 2017, I’ve lived in Singapore after being awarded a Fulbright Grant to research “Bridging East-West communications through Big Talk.” But as my Fulbright advisor at the National University of Singapore, Dr. Yew reminded me, “Life is more complex than binaries. What is East and what is West?”
This research has led me deep into the mode of conducting a literature review across the fields of “intercultural communications, psychology, and conflict studies,” to find out if the BIG TALK method of ‘asking deep questions’ can generate empathy, and impede conflict between members of disparate cultures. My highest dream for Big Talk hasn’t changed… I hope it can one day be used as a concrete tool and methodology for helping to bridge conflict across international divides.
Tennessee Williams wrote, “Time is the farthest difference between two places.” But now that 1/3 of my Fulbright tenure in Singapore is over, I feel time moving faster and faster than ever. And the speed which I call “fast” only continues to move ever faster -
Here are a few other ways I have made use of my time in Singapore over the past 3 months:
-Led a BIG TALK at the US Ambassador’s house
-Trained with the marines at the US Embassy
-Learned how to surf in Bali with my friend Beckie who started her own bikini line
-Picked up salsa dancing skills with friends from Japan
-Hiked through central Sri Lanka with my friend Theresa, a logic PhD student at Yale-NUS
-Showed my mom Singapore with my “Singapore host mom”
-Signed with a local modeling agency
-Volunteered with PEMCA, a research initiative to help migrant workers report work-site injuries and accidents
And now with only 7 months left here (officially), beyond the research project, I have made several other goals (I keep them as my iphone screensaver)...We’ll see how many I actually achieve!
Because Big Talk has so many components, I’ve been trying to sort it out into categories (i.e. Personal, Research, Business, Nonprofit partnerships / Education, Video). But truthfully, I feel - The shape of Big Talk is still amorphous! I let people define it for themselves in the stories they share with me.
That is why, I want to share this Thanksgiving game with you. If you’re feeling brave, you can record the stories and share them with me by filling out this form. And let me know if you give me permission to publish yours on the Big Talk website, Facebook group, and Instagram.
A more in depth version of the game can be found at this link. (Makes for a good stocking stuffer too!)
Thank you for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi friends! A summary of my first two month's work and new life in Singapore: (Subscribe to the newsletter at www.tinyletter.com/kalina)
New BIG TALK Video from Singapore Coming Soon
Fulbright Research and Teaching
Click to Read a Play Preview: Beneath the Surface
Cards For Sale on Amazon & in Singapore + Enter for a Giveaway
My Fulbright Research Project aim for the 2017-2018 year working at the National University of Singapore's Department of New Media Communications is to build a BIG TALK framework that helps people bridge communication gaps and facilitates in-person meaningful conversations, while addressing the question of whether we can build a narrative of targeted discussion points paired with guidelines that will help people “make BIG TALK” on their own in various interpersonal situations across boundaries of different social environments.
During my Fulbright year in Singapore, I plan to work towards these five goals:
1. Release an online BIG TALK video submission platform for anyone in the world to submit and upload their own BIG TALK videos to.
2. Publish a new set of BIG TALK questions and guidelines based on research gathered through interviews, articles, and data.
3. Develop a framework for a course that teaches practical applications for using BIG TALK with different groups of Singaporeans, such as students, migrant workers, professionals, and soldiers.
4. Write a journalistic collection of scenes / short stories about my BIG TALK conversations with people in Singapore.
5. Create a short documentary film on a topic that emerges from my research.
On September 8th, 2017, I delivered a research talk at the National University of Singapore where I introduced my Fulbright research project for the year: "How to Bridge East-West Communications through BIG TALK."
At the end of the talk, people raised interesting and provocative questions such as "Does BIG TALK run the risk of promoting 'emotional tourism'?'" or "When is the right time for BIG TALK and is there a right time for small talk too?" I have taken all these questions to heart, and will address them in a future blog post that delves further into the evolution of the research project.
Stay tuned! - Kalina
See the original posting about the talk here:
This month, I moved to Singapore to begin a Fulbright Research Grant, "How to Bridge- East West Communications using Big Talk."
During my first week, I was able to make Big Talk with some members from the U.S. Embassy as well as some recently returned Fulbright scholars from Singapore.
More details and research updates to come!
This morning I received an email from Trinidad! On July 4th, the lovely Lynn-Marie Edwards hosted a Big Talk event for 70 at the Kaiso Blues Cafe:
When I asked Lynn-Marie what organization helped her put on the event, I was touched by her answer:
"I am not attached to any organisation. I am just one woman who was so touched by an idea that I had to do something with it in in my community. In future, I want to have more events like these. I REALLY love Big Talk! I love what it does for people, almost giving them permission to let down their guards -
Many of the persons who attended expressed their desire to attend more events like Big Talk. We have a big party culture in Trinidad and Tobago. We are host to what some would say is the world's greatest Carnival. As a result there aren't that many fora where people can come together and engage in meaningful conversation just because. We also have a bad crime situation. The story of Trinidad and Tobago is quite an interesting one!
Maybe one day you can come here and we can have a grand Big Talk event and go around to schools and communities to Big Talk."
See below for some photos from the event:
The original message from Lynn-Marie:
"My team and I hosted a most successful and meaningful Big Talk evening called Big Talk- Conversations That Matter. We had about 70 people in attendance and held it on Tuesday 4th July, 2017
In promoting the event we interviewed some random people in our capital and made three promotional videos.
The evening started off with an ice-breaker called Find Your Big Talk Match. Questions were prepared in 3s and placed in a jar. Each participant had to choose a question and find the two other people who also chose that question and answer it.
After the ice-breaker I introduced myself as the host and explained the concept and flow of the evening. The idea was to have a relaxed evening of casual but meaningful conversation. My team and I prepared about 145 questions, using your questions as a base. We placed the questions in jars on cocktail tables throughout the space and groups were naturally formed and beautiful discussion flowed.
The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to hosting more events.
Thanks again for this amazing idea and allowing us to use it to make conversations that matter.
Hi all! I lowered the BIG TALK question card game cost to $19.99 on Amazon for Memorial Day. Please consider purchasing a set this weekend. You can navigate by going to http://bit.ly/bigtalkquestioncardgame.
Mental Health & Military are two issues I care a lot about. I will donate all proceeds from this weekend to the Soldiers Project, an organization that helps Veterans suffering from PTSD. Thank you for your contribution! :)
P.S. I am still working on getting cards eligible for Amazon export overseas, but in the mean time you can order them from PrinterStudio at bit.ly/bigtalkquestioncards (it just might take a little longer to arrive).
Thank you so much for your feedback and support. Please message me with any questions. Have a great weekend!! - Kalina.
I hope you are all doing well around the world. I wanted to tell you about some recent life & Big Talk updates. See the video below. :)
I'm moving to Singapore for a Fulbright Program Research grant.
Starting in August, I will be researching "How to Bridge East-West Communications through Big Talk" at the National University of Singapore. If you have any ideas for this research topic, or Singapore connections or recommendations, they would be very much appreciated!
You can order the Big Talk Question Card Game on Amazon Prime!
With two day shipping. :) I am still working on getting the cards available for international export. Thank you for your patience. If you have any requests to obtain a list of questions, to place bulk orders to use with your organization, or to create a non-profit partnership, please send me an individual message. In the past, your purchases of the Big Talk Question Card game has helped to support the survival and growth of Big Talk - Thank you.
I've been collecting your stories on this National Geographic Map.
These stories and more are the main reason I have stayed so motivated to keep working on Big Talk over these past two and a half years. Please continue to share them with me and the world around you. I always really appreciate receiving your email with a photo/video/story about how you had a meaningful experience. I apologize if I have not yet been able to respond to a message you sent in the past. I am going through them day by day.
That's all for now. Thank you so much and have a lovely weekend,
This week, I received this message from a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand:
My name is Justin Lott. I am 24 and I am currently in training to be a volunteer for the Peace Corp in Thailand. I heard of your concept of "Big Talk" when one of my fellow trainees sent your Tedx talk to our group chat and something amazing happened:
It inspired a few of us to answer that question - “What would you do if you were going to die tomorrow?”
The group has only known each other for a month and has been very supportive and great to each other, but with your talk I felt particularly inspired to facilitate that conversation.
After I shared my thoughts, the rest of the group decided it was okay to also let their guard down and share with each other the pains and feelings of what we wish to reconcile, or who we would make sure knew we loved them and appreciated their support the most. We grew to be so much deeper connected in hours than I think we had been all month. I think it was relieving to hear others had gone through pain just like I had or that they had.
A lot of us are trying to answer that same question you faced in the middle of you building BIG TALK of “Who am I?” I personally joined the Peace Corp to see that myself, and to honor the memories of my best friend and sister who have passed away who were such naturally giving people and I want to make sure that in the short amount of time I have on earth I felt like I’ve given myself to the a part of the world as much as they did in such a short amount of time they graced us with their presence.
So thank you so much for inspiring me to let my guard down, and great things are happening because of it. I think my fellow trainees would also share that sentiment with me. There were a lot of tears, smiles, and heartfelt discussions today. I hope you find the answers to your big talk questions for yourself. I think I’ve begun to answer them for myself and it’s opening up a new aspect of life for me.
And he responded with this message and photo:
"First of all thanks for taking the time to reply, I sort of sent it with the expectation that you might be really busy and was gladly surprised when I opened my email this morning. My fellow trainees were also excited to hear you had replied. Glad I could make your morning! So far this entire experience has been an adventure and we have 2 years to lead us through this great country together.
It's comforting to hear that there isn't an answer right away, and that it is something that is a work in progress. So far through this experience I have already learned a lot about myself and acknowledged things I hadn't been able to see before. When you are isolated and in the unfamiliar you have to change, and sometimes quickly. So I would encourage you to take that opportunity to go to Singapore and maybe the Peace Corps is something you could do in the future if it aligns with your goals. We have volunteers as old as 65 in our group, so it's for anyone and everyone. Like I said I'll be here for two years so if you’re ever around Thailand I'd love to meet up and share experiences and talk about big talk, or whatever else you might be interested in or want to know about me. Thank you, I know my sister and best friend would be smiling at me now and proud of who I'm becoming. It certainly has changed the way I view the world and life and led me to ask these questions to myself even though I'm not always comfortable with the answer…”
My friend from Singapore shared this article with me about how to make BIG TALK over the Chinese New Year holiday!
Text of article below:
by Jiezhen Wu (User) | Jan 24, 2017
"Tired of the same old conversations during Chinese New Year? Here's what you can do to change that.
Whether or not you celebrate Chinese New Year, this festive time of year usually entails spending more time with family, friends, and even acquaintances. Spending more time together also means the probability of receiving these questions may increase.
"Ah boy, your PSLE this year right? Got study hard or not?"
"Ah girl, you got boyfriend already or not?"
"Wah, you put on weight ah. How to get girlfriend like that?"
"Where are you working now? Got make enough money or not?"
"What car are you driving now?"
"When are you getting married?"
Jokes aside, most people start asking these questions because they want to find out more about what's going on in your life, but don't know where to start. So, they resort to small talk instead.
But, what if we didn't have to resort to small talk? What if we could fill these awkward moments with more meaningful, authentic conversations instead?
So this year, instead of small talk, why not try making BIG TALK instead?
BIG TALK questions are usually universal, so that anyone can answer it, regardless of race, religion, gender, or age. The questions are kept open-ended, and asks for more than a yes or no answer. This is where you get to hear their story.
Most importantly, BIG TALK questions are meaningful. By skipping the small talk, you get to engage in more meaningful conversations, with the people you've known for a long time or even people you've just met.
BIG TALK IS A SOCIAL EXPERIMENT AND VIDEO SERIES STARTED BY KALINA SILVERMAN.
SHE EVEN GAVE A TEDX TALK ON BIG TALK TOO.
Before you say, "Wait but that's in the United States – we live in Singapore!", here's proof that we can make BIG TALK in Singapore too.
Whether it's making BIG TALK with our mothers, connecting with complete strangers over kopi, or asking people what home means to them, the biggest step is asking the first question and being open to their answers.
Try it – you might be surprised by how open people can be when you take the time to ask those big questions!
Here are some BIG TALK questions you could try this Chinese New Year:
1. What was life like for you when you were growing up?
2. What is something that you are thankful for in your life and why?
3. What gives you hope?
4. What does home mean to you?
5. What is something good in your life that you often take for granted?
If you decide to take up this challenge and make BIG TALK, we would love to hear your stories. Share your experience making BIG TALK by tagging us at @thehiddengood or using the hashtags #thehiddengood and #makebigtalk.
Or you could join us at The Hidden Good, if you want to make more BIG TALK in Singapore.
TEASER IMAGE CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM THE ANIMAL PARADE
Thanks to The Hidden Good for this article contribution!
(See full Blog Post on Edovo's website HERE)
Hi, all! This is a partnership I'm REALLY excited for BIG TALK to have a hand in -
Edovo is a jail education solutions platform that works to "expand #education behind bars, reduce #recidivism & improve opportunities for people affected by #incarceration."
Together, we made a BIG TALK course for students. Here is a segment about the outcome from Edovo's blog post -
"Some students told stories about fear and difficulties of adjusting to prison - Others reflected on love, healing, and their hopes and dreams for the next generation. Many students explained how looking back helps them move forward, noting they would like to try BIG TALK with other people.
Everybody has a story, and telling that story can be therapeutic. A prison or jail environment isn’t always the most inviting space for a person’s deepest thoughts. With BIG TALK, our users have both a private space for self-reflection and the tools they need to reflect with others, build relationships and foster empathy.
We look forward to following users’ progress with the series on our platform. In a recent survey, students were eager to get even more BIG TALK materials. “Can you upload a second course this week?” one message read. “I’d like to finish it before I go home.”
This is an amazing opportunity for college students to win up to $10,000 to pursue their dreams. If you have a big idea you want to work on - or if there is a college student in your life who you seriously believe in, please pass it along! :)
Two years ago, the Ozy Genius Awards helped me make many of the ideas I had for growing Big Talk a reality. Now Ozy is running the contest again and the submission deadline is January 20th. 10 students will win up to $10,000 for their summer projects. Website for more details and to apply is OZYGenius.com; hashtag is #OZYGenius.
Cheers and happy holidays,
Two years ago today, on September 15th, 2014, I posted a video to YouTube. In it, I approached several strangers and asked them, "What do you want to before you die?" I had wanted to make more meaningful connections with people and transcend small talk––so I called the project BIG TALK.
In the 731 days since, the idea and video have exceeded my expectations. BIG TALK has helped me to deepen every connection I make. It’s brought me closer to friends, peers, coworkers, family members, fellow travelers, and new acquaintances. Moreover, BIG TALK has helped me to better understand myself.
A year ago I recounted my experiences of starting BIG TALK in a TEDx talk. I’ve since received messages from people all over the world who joined this movement. In the past two weeks, I’ve spoken to: a woman in Germany who hosted a BIG TALK dinner; a teacher in rural India who led a seminar; college students in Canada who now run orientation activities modeled after BIG TALK. In the past seven days, I’ve received BIG TALK questions, ideas, and support from Singapore, Morocco, Brazil, Australia, Serbia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dubai, the UK, and Saudi Arabia - to name a few.
Despite what I’ve learned these past two years, I still struggle to answer the question: what is BIG TALK? BIG TALK means so much to me, it is difficult to distill into any singular thing. It is a communication research project, video storytelling series, global social movement, question card game, empathy building tool, online web platform (and those are only naming the ways in which I have used BIG TALK). Two years after its inception, BIG TALK is still evolving.
Most of all, BIG TALK is something I made to help mediate feelings of isolation and disconnection inherent in today’s world. I recently read a TIME.com article in which Justin Worland asserted loneliness to be “the next big public health issue.” I’ve faced feelings of detachment during transitions in my own life, and it hurts to think of anyone else going through the same. BIG TALK, I hope, can alleviate some of this pain. After it was first picked up by the Huffington Post, my world exploded with thoughtful messages and ideas… At twenty-years-old, I recorded a video promise to myself where I vowed to devote the next two years of my life to growing BIG TALK. I am now twenty-two -- I’ve kept my promise, and I’m not done yet.
I am so grateful for the support and connections I’ve felt with those who also value engaging and making meaningful connections with people near and far. And I am more determined than ever to embark on the next stages of BIG TALK and discover new relationships and collaborations to come!
Do you have an idea for a BIG TALK question? Submit it below, and it might be included in the next edition of the BIG TALK Question Card Game and app (you can order original cards and see ideas for how to play at makebigtalk.com/play-the-question-card-game http://www.makebigtalk.com/play-the-question-card-game/).
Who knows - if your question is original, we might even send you your very own deck of the new cards when they're ready - for free! ;)
Hi friends! I've been working with some awesome people to design the next edition of BIG TALK question cards as well as a new question app. If you have ideas for questions we can include, please submit your answers at ▶️ bit.ly/bigtalkquestionsubmit ...If your question is original, you might just find yourself to be a new owner of the deck when it's ready! 😉 (you can order original cards and see ideas for how to play at makebigtalk.com/play-the-question-card-game). As always, thanks for your patient support! ☺️