In my English V Honors class, we are studying world literature. My teacher showed us a TedTalk podcast to help introduce the curriculum and to help us expand our knowledge of other cultures. Native born Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was the said speaker in the TedTalk shown to us in class. Chimamanda tells of the books she read as child, mostly consisting of British and American children’s books. When Chimamanda started to write stories, they were almost identical to the books she had read. Chimamanda would include in her books caucasian children who ate apples and played in the snow because that is what she thought she could only write about. After discovering African literature, she realized literature did not have to include foreigners, but it could include things she knew and people similar to her. This helped her from having a single story on literature.
Having a single story like this can lead to stereotypes, which can lead to an incomplete story.
After hearing the podcast and learning more of her story, I realized I was guilty of having a single story on people and places I have never even met or been to before. Having this realization inspired me to erase any and all single stories I may have. Having a single story of others has encouraged me to learn in depth about people and different cultures instead of having the single story of a person or culture. For example, I used to think all Hispanic cultures were the same. I thought they ate the same food, celebrated the same holidays, and had the same traditions. I happened to be one hundred percent wrong; I realized how incorrect I was through my dear friend Kim. She is Peruvian and taught me so much about her culture and how every culture was very different from each other. Since our friendship began, I have celebrated Peru’s independence day with her and her family and enjoy the delicious, traditional meals of Peru. I also became involved in an Afro-Peruvian dance group, and we performed at Que Pasa Fest in October. Through this experience, I have been able to learn more about the Peruvian culture and their traditions, and how different aspects of their culture is blended with other cultures around the world. By connecting myself with the Peruvian culture, my beliefs of the Hispanic culture have been altered. I am no longer narrow minded and have allowed myself to be open to new cultures and the Hispanic community to better inform myself. have also been immersing myself into the many cultures of New Orleans. Already this year, I have participated in service projects with French National Honors Society, which has helped me learn about the French influence in New Orleans. I have learned New Orleans consists of many cultures besides French; New Orleans consists of Spanish, French, and English influences, which makes the city a true melting pot of cultures.The TedTalk I saw changed who I am as a person because I do not just listen to single stories anymore, but instead, I look into the story and see who the people really are. Chimamanda’s story has helped me come to the realization of how there is an abundance of cultures and people to learn about, and if we have a single story about those cultures or people then we would not be able to fully understand and learn.
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