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Stranger 81, Day 81 - Meet Tesh

Stranger 81, Day 81 – Meet Tesh, the “Man Seeking ‘Obrima'”

I met today’s Stranger sitting at the “corridor” of the first floor of Atlanta Tech Village today. I wasn’t sure if I should walk around a while, but then saw this gentleman tip-tapping on his new MacBook wearing a Batman beanie and workout clothes. Hmm… seems like there’s a good story here, and boy was it! He was happy to jump in as today’s Stranger, and I’m glad I got to meet him.

Meet Tesh, 28

Who are you?

“Who am I? I’m a father of 10…” *pause* Eh?

“I’m joking! I’m joking!” Haha. You’re the first to pull a joke on that one, and it’s Day 81!

“Well, you know, I’m an inventor. I am an explorer. I’m an entrepreneur. In search of obrima. It’s a West African term. It means to search for a higher sense, or acclimation of one’s self. To a degree, yes, I am spiritual. So everyday, I seek to attain obrima. But, you know, in that attainment, that’s something that’s ongoing. You never really will reach it, not even on your dying day. But it does provide a sense of fulfillment because you’re looking to strive to get better. I don’t mean monetarily, but I mean holistically. To be a better person than the day before.”

“Obrima is also a brand. It’s a fashion brand that I’m building. My first runway fashion show that I modeled in was three years ago. And my current business partner is like a brother to me now. It was his first design competition. It was here in Atlanta. It was sponsored by Peroni, the Italian beer, and Milk Studios, which is a studio based in New York. I closed the show — an orange, unfinished blazer. It was a linen blazer. It was a spring collection, and I helped fund it, too. When we met, it was at the casting. Afriyie is my friend’s name — my business partner. He’s a self-taught designer. He finished middle school here, and he went on to move to Atlanta, actually. He used to work out of a boutique here in Atlanta in Midtown. He was a tailor — an in-house tailor.”

“Story told short, that’s where we…,” he pauses for a split-second before pivoting. “After that, we went to Charleston Fashion Week in March of 2013. He was an emerging designer out of a competition of 20. We were entering menswear for a holistic brand which so happens to be the market we were entering first. Out of 20 designers, we won… only male designer.”

“Fern Mallis, who’s the founder of New York Fashion Week, who was one of the judges, is one of our mentors. Now, we just won last year the Axe White Label Collective. So Axe, the body spray, partnered with Esquire Magazine, and they came up with a new product category to cater to more of an adult demographic. It is called, again, the White Label. By partnering with Esquire, they wanted to tell an authentic narrative. So they selected our brand. They selected Afriyie as a designer with demonstrable talent in a brand in American fashion, or fashion in general with high potential. So, it’s really neat. We were notified that we secured that.”

“Our mentors were Nick Sullivan, who is a fashion director of Esquire Magazine, John Legend, the musician, and Billy Reed, who today, is a quite close friend and mentor. Billy Reed is an American designer.”

“So, that’s one of my areas of interest. We’re pursuing that. That’s kind of one area on my walk… on my path.”

… towards obrima.

“Yeah, well, obrima came, again, I grew up Hindu. My religious affiliation, I don’t have a partial affiliation, but I just like the term.”

So, you’re doing a few different things — modeling, and you call yourself an inventor.

“Well, an entrepreneur. When I say that, I just seem to be very, very good at connecting dots. And by dots, I mean people. People with certain levels of skill sets, or interests by coming together, we can create something of value to us and to others.”

“Value and also it being strong and impactful in society. But in this case, this is in healthcare. We started a medical technology company. It’s call Lab Solutions. It’s a reference laboratory. It’s in Midtown, actually, right behind Atlantic Station on Northside Drive. We do a couple things. One is toxicology. With toxicology, we test to the nanogram with what’s called Liquid Chromatography Dual Mass Spectroscopy machines.” Pause here, and say that five times fast. Or just twice. Nope.

“They’re made by Agilent Technologies. They analyze urine specimen or liquid fluids to the milligram. It protects patients’ safety and compliance reasons, and also physician liability. So, practices nowadays because of adverse drug events or aversion, you name it, practices are looking for standard protocols or methodologies in place whether it’s a primary care physician, or an internist becomes a sole practitioner to multi-practice groups like a behavioral health center of psychiatrists. We test urine specimens to the nanogram, and we test for over 200 analytes. By analytes, we mean different drugs and different drug classes in order to provide a scope to what is in a patient’s system. Each physician or group practice or whatnot has their own standard protocol. That’s just one of our services. ”

“Another one is pharmacode genetics. The pharmacode genetics, we have an in-house genetics team. We create personalized drug therapy programs based off a patient’s genomic makeup. We all metabolize medications differently. How I digest an enzyme reacts to that medication… it could be toxic, right? So with these color-coded pharmacode genetic reports that are sent via fax, or we can do a bi-directional-EM interfacing with EMR (electronic medical records), these reports are done within 4-5 business days, and the physician can see — well, if certain medications they’re curious about are not working, the report can provide a possible alternative or an adjustment in dosing along with their current medication list. With pharmacode genetics, it can be a poly-pharmacy patient on multiple medications. Maybe the physician has a curiosity of just a certain type of patient. But it’s a great way. It’s progressive medicine, and it really helps save healthcare dollars, and of course, patient care… and the patient as a whole.”

“We also do some cancer genomic studies and testing. With a saliva sample, if you, as a patient, have a hereditary predisposition in your nuclear family (close blood relatives) have cancers of various forms — whether it’s breast, ureteral, colorectal — you name it — ovarian… we can predict the likelihood you have cancer, or if it’s already present in your body.”

“We’re working more towards a more… becoming more of a diagnostics lab. You know, progressive clinical tools to help enhance the clinical practice. So, we want to partner with physicians more than just extend a service. It’s more of a partnership and a service orientation.”

“So far, it’s good. We have a 10,000-sq foot standalone facility in Midtown. We service a lot of practices here in the Atlanta metro-area, and into South Carolina, North Carolina, and beyond.”

I think I’ve messed up some of the spelling. You’ll have to bear with me! Lots of background noise on my voice recording + complicated medical terms I’ve never heard = typos, likely. Yowza.

That’s… quite a bit. (“Yeah, I know,” he laughs.) You’ve got this fashion thing going on. You’ve got this life sciences/ health company. What’s driving this motivation for you?

“Honestly, it’s the people I work with. Who I work with that help me grow, and evolve, and become a better person. Not only with my decision-making and choices, but also from an educational standpoint. Learning from others. I’ve been fortunate to work with close family, close friends in order to progress myself, and my individual interest helps drive my personal growth. So that’s that.”

Has there been some way, some time where you’ve been maybe “kicked down”, and your friends (the people who drive you) have been there to help?

“Oh, all the time!”

“Here’s the thing when I say friends. A lot of this is the relationship that I have with, for example, one of my friends. He’s, I’d say, eight years older. There’s this sense as almost a guardian relation. So, you can be assessed more critically by someone who knows you so well, than someone else. Society today, you get too many trophies for coming in 2nd or 3rd. It’s this sense of a pat-on-the-back. Whereas, with my friend and the way of our interactions, it’s not always honky-dory. When it’s not, someone can come down on you. They’re comfortable in the way they approach you vivaciously. And, it, again, always hasn’t been that easy. And nothing is. Even with my brand. Yeah, sure, these accolades, these events and functions, even in the lab, you’re having to pitch what it is… your service offerings. You know how many physicians get approached for all types of things all the time, especially being private? Yeah, I’ve been told no. And do I get down? Absolutely. I’m a human, you know. I can sit here and say this, this, and the other, and all these wonderful things going on, but that doesn’t come without sacrifice. Are you kidding me? That doesn’t come without sacrifice. It comes with a certain amount of mental fortitude. Fight everyday. It’s not easy out there these days.”

“With the advent of social media, and the things society deems is whole. ‘By attaining this material thing, makes me a better person.’ Identifying with these sort of outfits… that’s not how society should be shaped. That’s not how we should be shaped as people. It’s so hard to connect these days. You’re already typecasted as soon as you walk out the door whether it’s your facial hair, whether you’re wearing a Batman cap, you know it doesn’t matter. What I’m saying is that societally, we have to work together to create a degree and sense of open awareness and order and structure, and just resonate with each other. Not saying that’s going to happen overnight, but you have to have an open mind initially for that to begin — that open dialogue.”

“I’ve judged others in my past, and I do it probably now. But I’m very much more aware, more conscious of just changing things that are habitual. Not that judging people is habitual, but anything in life whether it’s exercise — my regimen needs to change after a certain time.”

“Is that good?” he asks to check if he answered the question.

What is the most important personality quality that you think could allow you reach a new level in whatever it is you’re doing — your career, or like your art, or your work. What personality trait do you think matters the most for developing that way? (Thanks to Aaron, Stranger 80)

“As you’re reading that, the first trait that came to mind is perseverance. Perseverance is something that I resonate with that’s actually on my, framed on my bedroom wall at my family home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It’s a man holding on with one hand — you know, those motivational quotes? Yeah, perseverance is a strong trigger — quality or trait — in order to continue to manifest, regardless of what may be attacking you in your life. I mean… it’s the one thing that keeps me going, you know?”

“So I would think anyone who is looking to further themselves and their pursuits, and have a sense of… fulfill their sense of purpose. Purpose is ever-lasting. It’s something that constantly changes instead of the effervescent. Yeah, I think that’s the strongest quality.”

What’s a question you’d like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

He thinks about this one. First time! Then, he says, “So many I could ask…”

Tesh talks about adversity, and wants to ask this to tomorrow’s Stranger: “how to deal with adversity, you know, in order to have the most effective outcome. Yeah, that’ll be my question — how do you deal with adversity?”

After the handshake.

Wow. I won’t lie, this was a doozy of a write-up. There were so many technical terms, and so much background noise in my recording, and Tesh had a fair bit to say. There was so much to his story. Much of it, especially early on, was technical. I thought about abbreviating some of it, but it was very fascinating, especially, as I listen to Tesh again, and transcribe his story. Further, I ran into a friend later in the evening, and shared a little bit about Tesh. She, being interested in science and the human genome, was so intrigued into Tesh’s story. This only confirmed that I should transcribe as much detail as I could from my meet with Tesh.

Tesh was brilliant. I enjoyed listening to him, and how he could easily recant the various services and accomplishments of his fashion brand and his lab. He’s 28, and though, I did not ask about his background further, it’s clear he’s had some quality education both formally and informally as he’s learned on his own.

I also appreciated Tesh’s response to Aaron’s question regarding the personality trait. Tesh is well-versed in entrepreneurship, and how important and powerful perseverance is. He mentions purpose during our meet, too, which tells me that he, too, believe purpose can play a powerful roll in persevering. Don’t I know it…

So meet Tesh. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 79, Day 79 - Meet Dmitri

Stranger 79, Day 79 – Meet Dmitri, the “One Stop Stylist”

Continuing on on not just 100 Strangers, 100 Days, but also on the journey to meet the many Strangers with familiar faces! Today, I got a chance to meet one of the baristas I encounter oh-so-often at Starbucks. He’s always cheery, always friendly. As just as he always is with me and every other Starbucks guest, he happily accepted to be today’s Stranger. And that cheerfulness continued throughout our meet.

Meet Dmitri, 28

Who are you?

“As… what do you mean? Like, as a person?” He smiles. “Hmm, that’s a good question.”

“I’m a lot of things. I am… I could make just one-big word — a multi-talented…” he thinks some more. As he does, he’s smiling and his eyes are going back and forth everywhere except me. “A multi-talented, passionate, entrepreneur!”

So, you say entrepreneur. Your email includes “one stop stylist”. What is that?

“I have a license in cosmetology, and I’ve have that for three years. I’m now working on my Bachelors in fashion marketing. So, I sew as well. I’ll be graduating in June of 20-17. So, it’s kind of pretty much saying it — it’s like a one-stop shop. Pretty much where the email derived from. It’s pretty much someone who can do everything when it comes to the fashion industry — hair and beauty. It’s all in one.”

What do you love about the fashion industry? Why are you pursuing this?

“I love dolling people up!” He laughs. “It’s an art, you know what I mean? It’s not really a career. It’s more so an art. You have to have an eye for it. It excites me to see other people happy.”

“It’s usually what I’m about, so. I like to be happy. I like other people to be happy.”

I’m thinking about these examples where you’ve dolled someone up. Have you ever dolled someone up, and you did it because you wanted to make that person happy?

“Absolutely. I’ve have a couple events of people who just did not feel pretty, you know what I mean? It’s kind of sad to see because everyone should have some kind of confidence level. When I interned at Nordstrom, there was a lot of people who came there who just did not like their figures. Or who didn’t like anything about themselves. I worked in the dress department. It was kind of hard. It was kind of hard to convince someone that they are pretty when they don’t believe you.”

“… And it takes a lot of dedication. You have to actually be dedicated to that person. Like, trust me, and it’ll all be fine. I’ve even invited some of them to my house afterwards for hair and make-up as long as they bought a dress that I knew would fit for them. I had this specific lady who was getting ready for her daughter’s wedding — ‘I was just too big!'” Dmitri tried to portray the woman’s voice as a little frantic and discouraged.

“Umm, it’s crazy because she ended up buying a dress. It’s on my Instagram. So, she ended up buying a dress. Did her hair and makeup. The photographer took photos of the wedding, and she looked PHE-NOMINAL.” He laughed and smiled about this. I could see him reliving the moment and just being proud.

“She cried, and she sent me this long text message. Kind of warmed me, you know? You just don’t find this on an everyday basis.”

How do you also help some of these people (men and women, I’m guessing)… how do you help them find confidence? Is it purely through styling?

“Yeah… I feel like everyone, you can always look at someone and find beauty in something about them. Focus on their eye colors. Whether they have beautiful lashes. Or they have perfect eyebrows, or you know… beautiful skin. It’s just enhancing what’s already there, and not doing too much.”

“We had to study a lot in cosmetology and in dresses. You had to have a dress that fits someone’s figure. You don’t want them to look box-shaped. You don’t want them to look bigger than what they look like, or makeup. I have this book at home called the art of cosmetics through makeup. Tells you how to reconstruct someone’s face. And, you know, it’s just a lot of… it really takes a lot of studying to really learn people. Someone can say I really don’t like this about me. You have to know how to fix it. If I don’t know how to fix it, I just say I don’t know. But I’m still willing to help. I research it, and help you get that confidence level up.”

“I’ve had a lot of people who never wore makeup before. Got them into makeup, and I can’t get them to stop!” He laughs. “So, you know what I mean? So now, they’re like shopaholics when it comes to makeup. But that’s a good thing. Everyone needs a push. Everyone needs that one push that says, ‘okay, maybe I can do this’. Because I don’t believe anyone alive did everything alone.”

So to that, who’s been someone who has been there for you?

“The most, my grandmother and my mom. And my best friends. I have three solid best friends. Known them since I was 15. Without them, I’d probably be like a… shipwreck!” He laughs.

“… probably.”

I imagine being an entrepreneur (I’m one, too), there’s ups and downs, right? So what have some of these support cast members done to continue to help you realize your shine, your confidence?

“I would say whenever they do something as far as… yesterday, I had a tag on Facebook. Someone was getting better at doing their own makeup. I had taught her her skills, and she tagged me, and it’s like, ‘I bet you’re so proud of me’. Things like that that keeps you going. To know that people remember that you helped them. They don’t forget where they came from. Or they don’t forget whoever helped them turn their life around. That kind of thing. That’s very inspiring to me. That’s what keeps me going.”

What’s something that you’re very confident of, that you love, and that you’re proud of about yourself?

“Umm,” he thinks.

“I would say my intelligence. I’m very intelligent. A lot of people don’t see. A lot of people think I’m ditzy!” he laughs. “That’s just a personality thing. It’s just not. But I’m very serious of the things that I do. I play a lot, but it’s just my personality. It’s how I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t take everything seriously. I don’t think you have to be serious in order to conquer something. You can still play. It’s okay to play around. But instantly serious at the same time. You don’t have to be so dead-serious that nobody wants to work with you, or that kind of deal.”

“I would definitely say my intelligence. My sense of art. Definitely. Where it comes to interior colors, or whatever has to do with art. Period. Think those are my best assets.”

Is there anything else that people can do to be more confident about themselves? To love themselves more?

“Umm, yeah, I think there’s always room for improvement for anybody. My mom used to tell me all the time. I used to say, ‘oh my gosh, I’m so fat. I need to workout!” he laughs and has a big smile.

“She goes, ‘well, you know, if you don’t do anything about it, you really don’t want it’. I go with that all the time. When someone tells me that they feel like they’re too thin, they need to workout. They need to eat healthy. They’re really just whining and complaining. If you really want to change, you will. And, you’re boost of confidence, yeah, someone else can help you become confident in yourself, but it has to start with you first. You have to actually believe that you can do it, you know what I mean? You believe yourself, so you can believe in other people.”

“So, yeah.”

Describe a time when you were truly happy. (Thanks to Zach, Stranger 78)

“Wow… umm…” his eye pace back and forth above me and behind me. He’s thinking.

“… like truly happy. That is hard.”

“That’s a really, really good question.”

“I don’t know. I don’t really know if I actually hit the truly happy stage, yet. If I was truly happy, I would’ve remembered. It’s almost like been in love. If you’re in love with someone, you’d know. So I’ve been very happy. But truly happy? I don’t think I’ve hit that yet.”

“Like, it’s coming, you know what I mean? It’s right around the corner, but you know… But I don’t think… yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever been legit, truly, truly happy. Happy? Yes. Truly happy? No. Not yet.”

So what is it going to take to get to truly happy?

“A sense of self. I feel like I just need to learn more of who I am as a person before I can be truly happy. That’s with anything. That’s with careers, or relationships, or just life itself. I’m a people-pleaser, so… a lot of people that are close to me would come before I did. You know, it’s kind of changing. I’m getting more into myself, and more of what do I like to do, and things I love and all that kind of stuff.”

“So I feel like once I’m happy, I can make everyone else happy.”

Your turn! What would you like to ask, effectively, tomorrow’s Stranger?

“I would like to ask who inspired you to do what you love to do?”

“I feel like everyone’s inspiration comes from different things. It’s interesting to know who that person is, and why.”

“It’s really deep!” he laughs again.

After the handshake.

This was great. I knew Dmitri was a nice, friendly guy. However, I was really captivated with how happy he was throughout this meet. He admitted later that it was a little nerve-racking, so perhaps that smile disguised it. Disguised it well, indeed. He was just constantly smiling, and constantly looking everywhere except for me until he was listening to my question. It was fascinating to watch him piece his story together, just like some other Strangers. Dmitri was just that much more excited. It was great.

When he said he had never experienced true happiness, I admit I was a little sad. Like he feels everyone should have something to be confident in, I feel everyone should have several, let alone one, moment of true happiness. I was hoping Dmitri had that one moment where he basked in the glow of the present… perhaps a proud moment, and he did nothing other than revel in how he made someone smile and confident about him/ herself. I can say, honestly, that even for a few seconds as he gleefully welcome me at Starbucks or someone does something nice for me, I feel a sense of true happiness. I felt connected to another, and I felt that someone was nice just to be nice. Sure, the moment may be “fleeting” or may last just a few seconds. However, they’re the few second that offers and brief respite and offers that ray of sunshine — that little piece of true happiness.

Though, it’s nice to hear Dmitri was confident that his moment was coming. I hope it comes soon and frequently.

Meet Dmitri. No longer a Stranger.

Stranger 29, Day 29 - Meet 3 Friends

Stranger 29, Day 29 – Meet 3 Friends, “Hulk, Fashion Designer, Teleporter”

Today’s meet was shorter in the number of questions, but I was more interested in having a group of friends who hiked up to the top of Stone Mountain. I’ve been interested in meeting groups of friends or even couples, and this morning provided a great opportunity. As I looked around the cloudy summit this morning, I saw a group of three friends laughing and doing push-ups together. Perfect.

Meet Tunde, 27, Tabitha, 28, John, 30

Who are you?

John: “If you were playing a video game, and I was scrolling through characters, what would your bio say?”

Tunde: “I’m the hulk… hmm, who am I? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out.”

Tabitha: “I am…” she’s laughing a good bit right now. “I am a…”

John jumps in: “… full of life. I just met her this morning. She’s great.”

Tabitha: “I am a… God-fearing business woman trying to leave my mark on the world. It sounds cliche, but I want to change at least one person’s life before I leave the earth. That’s who I am. That’ my main goal.”

John: “I guess I could piggyback on what Tabitha said. It’s not cliche… the world could use a lot more people who want to help other people. And I want to the same thing.”

How’d you guys meet?

John: “Our mutual friend — the Hulk!”

Tabitha: “Went to college with the Hulk!”

Yesterday, Sarah wanted to ask you what motivates you? Whatever it is that you love to do, what’s the driving force? (Thanks to Sarah, Stranger 28)

Tunde: “To go back to your question to who I am… kind of like what Tabitha said, I’m God-fearing. This is a man who is trying to change people as far as outlook on fitness, life… a day at a time, and try to make sure they better themselves. That’s what really drives me — just to see the change in them because when they actually change, you can see the joy and the happiness. That’s what drives me, to be honest.”

I asked Tunde if there was a reason why: “Well, it started off when I got into a car accident a couple years. When that happened, just how I felt being at home by myself and not being able to move.” At this point, John mentioned to Tabitha that he didn’t know about Tunde’s car accident.

Tunde continues, “It wasn’t easy, so I can only imagine when other people feel that they can’t really do things on their own. Just to see that change… it was… it was life-changing for me. It opened my eyes to see things in a different light. That’s kind of why I want to push people to do the same.”

“I didn’t think I was going to live from it. It was really tough.”

It was nice to hear Tunde share this Life-Defining Moment without having to ask the question explicitly.

Tabitha: “I am a fashion-designer. Christianity is a very big part of my life. My father named me after a seamstress in the Bible. When I was going to college, so it all clicked for me — this is exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Not only because I could do it, I enjoy doing it. I love doing it. I’m very big on purpose. I think things haven’t gone the way they should, or the way I thought they should have, or they have gone differently or better for me in that particular area… because that’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel like the stuff I make… changes peoples lives! I know it sounds crazy, but it really does. To make a woman feel beautiful about what she’s wearing. To feel beautiful in her own skin. That’s amazing. Who could ask for a better job? That’s why I do it. I really want to make someone’s life better. If I can do that through clothing… my business is philanthropic based, so if I can do that through the money my clothing generates or whatever, then… by any means necessary.”

I had to take second and ask Tabitha a personal tip for me… What’s the number 1 fashion tip for guys?

Tabitha: “Number 1 fashion tip… is… less is more. Less is more.” She then explains about how outrageous some styles are describing some guys “peacocking”.

She continues, “… and be yourself. Fashion is nothing is you’re not comfortable.”

Then, Tunde jumps in: “How about the fit of clothes?”

Tabitha excitedly exclaims, “YES! Tailor everything! Clothes are meant to be altered.”

I’m laughing, and then need to shift gears back to John.

Back to John!

“I’m going to piggyback on what they both said. That was all my answers so far.” We laugh.

“I guess what drives people is ambition, or lack thereof.” I ask him what he loves doing. He thinks about this.

“At the moment, bettering myself. Kind of what Tunde said, you could build up your body. You can be proud about it because it’s something you had to work for. It’s not something you can buy. It’s not something anybody can take away from you. It shows discipline. Shows motivation. Shows ambition. Shows respect for yourself. It says a lot. A picture’s worth a million words — if you have a great physique, it says a lot about you. The other half is who you are as a person, and how you act… your image will only take you so far.”

Tabitha jumps in pointing out that even if you look good, if you’re not “good” on the inside, it doesn’t matter.

“The inside and the outside both matter.”

What makes a great friendship?

Tunde: “Honesty.”

Tabitha: “Brutal honesty. If you really are someone’s friend, you know what they can handle, and you know how to deliver that.”

Tabitha adds, “…and trust!”

John: “going through the growing pains, that’s when you grow a better bond.”

What’s a question you’d like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

Tunde: “What wakes you up?”

Tabitha: “I want to know if you could be a superhero, what would your superpower be?”

John: “Teleport!” I ask John what question he’d like to ask, but he didn’t have one then.

After the handshakes.

It was pretty cold this morning, and I didn’t want to hold up these three friends who were doing push-ups around the top of Stone Mountain, so this was definitely a shorter meet. It was great, though. I enjoyed getting to know the three of them. They had great energy about them and real camaraderie despite Tabitha and John having just met. However, that’s what happens, isn’t it? When you have friends of friends, their short degrees of separation means the friends will likely get along, too. It was fun to watch these three interact with one another and how they joked and interjected themselves while another was answering.

So meet these three friends — Tunde, Tabitha, and John. No longer Strangers.