The Danger of a Single Story

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” –Maya Angelou

During PST (Pre Service Training), we watched a very powerful Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi titled, “Danger of a Single Story.” Watch: Ted Talk. One of the main highlights she focused on is that everyones life contains a compilation of stories. If we reduce people to a single story, we risk misunderstanding. Also the ‘single story’ creates sterotypes that are more often than not untrue and incomplete. Immediately after watching this it made me think about some of the responses I got from some folks when I told them I would be living in Swaziland for 2 years.

“Are you sure you want to go there, it’s poor,” “do they have housing,” “how will you get around,” “the HIV rate is high, be careful…” and a host of other things.

Were these comments a product of media or simple ignorance? The truth of the matter is, we all have biases, lack knowledge and carry misconceptions about people.

Peace Corps third goal is to “promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of the Americans.” My hope as you journey with me in the Kingdom of Swaziland is to do just that.

I’ve said this before but Swaziland has lots of eye opening natural beauty – for goodness sake I get to see the most beautiful birds (my favorite is the black bird with a long tail – I wish I knew the name), I’m surrounded by beautiful landscapes and mountains, the locals are so hospitable and generous, the country is rich in culture, I get to gaze into the beautiful night sky, there are so many cool places to venture off to here, I can go on and on…

Don’t let the single story dictate how you act, treat people, or think. If you believed the single story, you might miss out on a lot of things.

Warning: the stories I write on my blog are single stories. Take them with a grain of salt. I encourage you to make your own and travel if you can.

Thank you for reading. 🙂