An Evening in Chairs & Pairs


I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until, well, always: We are made for each other.

We are communal beings who thrive when we’re actively engaged in healthy and helpful relationships and communities. However, there’s a cruel irony that takes place when we, as individuals, encounter life’s challenges and either forget to lean into or lack a safe community for support, thus leaving us to deal with our stuff on our own.

Though U!Shine Vienna has only been active for a couple of months, the words we hear on repeat, whether spoken at one of our informational conversations, workshops, small group sessions, or game nights, is:

I am (or ‘I feel’) alone.

So, we created U!Meet, a new event solely focused on connection.

Imagine speed-dating— minus the romance.

We lined up chairs, in pairs, facing each other with both a yellow card and pink card placed face down on the carpet beneath the seats. As participants checked in for the event, we presented them with a name tag and fresh scones from one of our partners, The Cake Tree. We snacked, we laughed, we mingled, and then we connected.

The pink cards we called ‘Soft’ and the yellow cards we called ‘Strong & Wild,’ modeled after Brene Brown’s famous quote “Strong back, Soft front, Wild heart,” to have a distinction between light and deep questions, like:

Pink: How many chickens would it take to bring down an elephant?

Yellow: What makes you feel brave?

Participants faced each other and, upon the dinging of a silver bell, asked the person across from them one of the questions written on the colored card of their choosing. Though participants could always choose light or deep for themselves, they also had to answer whatever their partner asked back (within the realm of personal comfort). After two minutes, participants moved up or down a row to get to know someone new.

Everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company - so much so that many exchanged numbers, and we already know of at least one additional group gathering!

And that is the goal of U!Meet— to bring people together who, in turn, create lasting, supportive, and safe relationships.

Photos by Lucilia Romero Photography

About the Author

Holly Kooi is co-founder of U!Shine Vienna and lives in Vienna with her husband and two kids. She is a certified Character Mentor, and her heart is with the refugees and those on the fringes of society. She's passionate about loving people well, writing, mental health, and good coffee. To connect with Holly, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram.