The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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PostSecret creator reveals idea behind his popular blog and books

Everybody has a secret, ranging from small things like dancing around in your underwear when no one is around to dark ones that can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

Frank Warren, possibly the most trusted stranger in the world, started asking people to share their secrets with him five years ago.

Warren began an art exhibit by passing out blank postcards on the streets of Washington D.C.

He asked people to share a secret, and mail it back to him at his home address. The secrets haven’t stopped coming ever since.

Four books, numerous art exhibits, and a world-wide blog later, PostSecret has become part of everyday popular culture.

After launching this phenomenon, Warren now travels around the country speaking at various engagements, including college campuses.

Speaking at over 25 colleges this year alone, Warren gives insight about why he created PostSecret.

However, getting Warren to visit the St. John’s campus was not an easy task.

Seniors Olivia Hartle, Alexander Shalan and Ben Liss (who have been known as the “dream team” of this event) campaigned to bring Warren and his secrets to St. John’s in September 2008.

“Initially, we were told that it was too expensive to bring Frank Warren here,” said Hartle.

Hartle, Shalan and Liss then went to Mary Pelkowski, director of Leadership Development, and pitched the idea.

After coming up with all of the details and costs, Pelkowski agreed to invite Warren to St. John’s.

The students created a Facebook group called “I’d see Frank Warren if he spoke at St. John’s,” which gained 245 members.

After raising the $12,000 to pay for the speaking fee and accommodations, it was set that Warren would be on the line-up to speak at the Queens’ campus in Spring 2009.

“There was a major advertising push to get the word out about the event,” said Hartle.
Frank Warren finally came to St. John’s, speaking to an eager audience in Marillac Auditorium on March 19.

“My name is Frank Warren and I collect secrets,” was how Warren introduced his lecture, making the audience comfortable.

He went on to talk about how secrets were connected to feelings, which can affect a person greatly.

“Secrets are the kernel of knowledge that we can learn from,” said Warren.

He also shared his experience receiving various items along with secrets, including hotel keys, fruit and a bag of coffee.

The big emphasis of Warren’s lecture was how it takes courage to share a secret, which could in turn change someone else’s.

“The act of sharing secrets is transforming,” said Warren.

Warren himself has found a sense of liberation by taking part in this ongoing project, through experiencing complete strangers’ secrets.

“The courage of strangers has showed me made me realize that I could deal with my own secrets while sharing their own,” he said.

In this first book, Warren wrote one of his secrets to put inside of it. At the end of the lecture, he shared it with the surprised audience.

The event created much anticipation for students, in which more than 500 free tickets were given out.

Students began lining up outside of the door an hour before the event even began.
“I hope students are aware and relate to themselves, while sharing a common bond,” said Pelkowski.

After Warren was finished speaking, students were encouraged to ask questions, which prompted several students to even share their own secrets.

“St. John’s students are awesome. They have courage and trusting,” said Warren.

“It is a warm place to share secrets.”

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