More than a single story

I only have a single story to tell.

I want to share a few other versions of Macedonia with you.

I’ve been mulling over the idea of the single story since a cross-cultural training session during PST. We watched Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie deliver a powerful Ted Talk on the topic, talking about the narrow perceptions often created by a single vantage point of a country or group of people.

She talked about growing up in Nigeria and about attending university in the U.S., where she shocked her American roommate by speaking English and listening to Mariah Carey. (English is the official language in Nigeria.) Her roommate had no context for Nigeria, minus a simple, narrow, viewpoint – likely grouping the continent of Africa as a whole, as is unfortunately often the case.

Chimamanda went on to explain that she had many stories of America after reading multiple authors, and I’m sure exposure through a variety of other mediums. She didn’t put all Americans in the same box.

I’m not yet sure of how many stories my students and peers in Macedonia have about America.

I’ve been asked about how much money I made in America. (Often.) A stranger at the bus stop told me that everyone in America was rich. (I wish.) Someone else told me that everyone in America is fat. (They said it’s because of all the sauces.) I’ve been asked to compare Macedonia to the rest of Europe, where acquaintances assumed I’d oft traveled. (I haven’t.) I’ve been asked if I’ve ever met a movie star. (This is true, but not the norm — the perks of being a journalist, I suppose.)

I hope that while I’m here I’ll share a bit of my America with my friends, colleagues, students and even those strangers at the bus stop. I’ll give them one more perspective of what an American looks like.

I’d also like to give you a few more ideas of what Macedonia looks like.

I’ve included the links to blogs of fellow PCVs in Macedonia. I also created a landing page that will live in the main tab of my blog. We all come from different walks of life, with different experiences and expectations. We will also encounter different trials and triumphs while we are here. There are different formats and frequencies to the posts, but there will also be different observations and interactions with this beautiful country.

Please keep in mind that we’re all Americans away from home. I’m sure if our host families or colleagues or students wrote blog posts, you’d get a completely different perspective. (I’d love to read my host family’s account of my declaration that I don’t kiss, when I meant I don’t smoke.)

Please take some time and check out these awesome volunteers and their blogs, just remember that my blog is the most important one of all (kidding…sort of).

Here is the link to the complete Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.” It’s worth the watch.

BSA (Beyoncé Service Announcement): Another Ted Talk Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave in 2012 was sampled on Beyoncé’s “Flawless.”

Enjoy that video here. (The sample starts at 1:26.)

The bloggers of MAK19:


4 thoughts on “More than a single story

  1. What a thought-provoking post. And I checked out some of the other blogs. While yours, of course, is pre-eminent, they’re all interesting, and so diverse. The highlights so far: Rachel’s musings on the Slava, Sarah Blake’s profound discussion of American racial justice, and photos from everyone! Amazing how Macedonia can look so different from and similar to the U.S. at the same time. Maybe it’s the place that’s different and the people who are familiar.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person… The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” I’m glad you are part of the story-telling ❤


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