Students meet and greet “one blindfold at a time”

Alfredo Aparicio/Staff Writer

Meeting new people has never been such a blinding experience.

In a school of thousands, rushing daily to get to classes, with extracurricular activities or work after-school, meeting new people can be a hassle. Pick Your New Opportunities is making the experience of meeting others easier, but there’s a catch. You have to be blindfolded when doing so.

Founded by Michael Diaz at the University of Central Florida on February 2011, Pick Your New Opportunities is taking strides to perfect their craft, which includes blindfolding whole classrooms on the first day of class, as well as one-on-one conversations between strangers.

Joshua Moussa, a senior psychology major at UCF and Director of Research and Development at Pick Your New Opportunities, found out about the organization when he met Diaz at a get together among friends.

“Everyone has a fear. We are so into our phones or on the computer and we have Facebook, but it’s not the real way to meet someone. This encourages people to take the mask off and express themselves more fully,” Moussa said. “It’s about meeting new people and creating new opportunities to meet others that can go on to be a friend, co-worker or even date. I’m just the facilitator.”

On campus, Carlos Gonzalez, a junior communication arts major, is helping spread Pick Your New Opportunities’ motto: “Introducing the world one blindfold at a time.” He began his mission three weeks ago during Summer B, after Moussa introduced him to Diaz.

“I liked what he [Diaz] proposed,” explained Gonzalez. “At school we always meet new people under some condition, whether it be class or sororities and fraternities; This service creates the opportunity to meet others in a different setting.”

For Gonzalez, there are three “gates” he needs to get through when choosing a person. First, the person needs to be open to meeting new people. The second “gate” is whether the person is willing to be blindfolded during the meeting, and the third is time constraints. “That was a new one I discovered, so I usually try to get people during their free time when they’re just unoccupied with homework or getting to class,” said Gonzalez.

Freshman Yulinda Zeledon, a psychology major, and senior Camila Davis, a religion and African studies major, both found their participation in the activity to be “fun.”

“I’m still processing what happened. It’s surprising how you have a mental image of someone, but it’s never exact,” said Zeledon, after taking off her blindfold and seeing Davis for the first time.

“It was not what I expected. I think it’d be good for a class project,” Davis said. The topics between them ranged from a simple, “how was your day,” to heavier topics, such as their stance on gay rights and politics.

“We never ask heavy questions; we begin with more general topics and people share what they want to share. However, I don’t stop conversations; I encourage them,” said Gonzalez. “Sometimes people just want to vent or hear others’ opinions.”

For Gonzalez, his job as a facilitator’s most important aspect is the safety of the volunteers. “I always say, ‘your safety is my reputation,’ because the volunteers put their trust in me; In a sense, they’re flexible and open to trying out this new thing. I always thank the volunteers because they put their belief in this weird idea, and it really shows a lot about them,” said Gonzalez.

Two other volunteers, freshmen Laura Corchete, English major, and Alexandra Saunders, art major, were able to keep their conversation going before Gonzalez even asked the first question, eventually finding out that they had education in common, as Corchete wants to become a teacher and Saunders has three teachers in her family.

“I always talk to people,” said Corchete. “Even when I was small my mom used to get mad because I would talk to strangers.”

“Being a transfer student, meeting new people is always good,” said Saunders. “It was a good activity, cool and interesting.”

During the time he’s been doing this, Gonzalez has witnessed a variety of conversations among the volunteers, from short clipped answers to long, engaging discussions about things they have in common. “I once had a conversation go on for 30 minutes; I love those because it’s the kinds of people I’m looking for. Michael [Diaz] showed me the ropes, and it’s basically about getting people’s vibe when you approach them, gauging their body language and making eye contact.”

In the future, Gonzalez wants to make a club and hopes to have events, such as tabling on campus, as well as recruit new people and perfect the craft of introducing people to one another with a blindfold.

“I want to have a ‘friendship hour,’ ‘relationship hour’ and ‘business hour,’ especially business because sometimes you get to a meeting, say your idea, and the reactions around you might discourage you from expressing yourself. I want to make meeting people a possibility all the time,” said Gonzalez.

For more information on Pick Your New Opportunities, visit or to get involved on campus email Carlos Gonzalez at or

Be the first to comment on "Students meet and greet “one blindfold at a time”"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.