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Turning Lessons into Art: The Story Behind We’re Not Really Strangers

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

By: Emma Enebak

Before the card game that sparked a global movement, the Instagram page that garnered a following of 3.5 million and the artwork that saved friendships, relationships and even lives--

there was just a girl with her camera.

Koreen Odiney, an ambitious photojournalist in her early 20s, trolled the streets of Los Angeles looking for strangers with interesting stories. When she found one she would always snap a photo and ask them three simple questions:

What’s your name? What’s your age? And what are you passionate about?

Odiney, twenty-five, was passionate about one thing: helping people feel less alone (Forbes).

She didn’t know how or what she wanted to create, but she did know her mission: to build a platform that would empower people, whether two or 2 million, to make meaningful connections and embrace vulnerability (Forbes).

It was an old man she photographed on a park bench in LA who first turned to her and uttered the four words that sparked a movement,

“We’re Not Really Strangers.”

Today a global brand with a fan base of millions, We’re Not Really Strangers (WNRS) is proving to the world just how much more alike people are than they might think; at possibly a time in history when kindness and understanding are needed most.

WNRS offers a base card game with six expansion packs all aimed at cultivating emotional vulnerability, whether it be in friendships, relationships, marriages, breakups or even just plain self love.

The brand also boasts an instagram following of 3.5 million, where Odiney posts inspiring art consisting of quotes, sayings and thoughts placed against cityscape backdrops.

Despite the widespread success and support WNRS has achieved, the reviews from ordinary people with extraordinary experiences might be the most edifying testimonies to the real change this brand has sparked.

One unnamed man wrote to Odiney in 2019 via instagram DM,“One of the cards was something along the lines of ‘what is something you want to tell me,’ and I told the girl I was playing with that I was in love with her. Today she drove an hour and 45 minutes from another state to tell me in person that she loves me too.”

This is just one amongst a compilation of thousands of fan messages Odiney receives from real people with stories that make clear she is achieving what she hoped to all along--

She is showing people that they are not, and never will be alone.

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