“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”
― Wade Davis

What does it mean for someone to have a story?  What do stories mean for different societies and individuals?  How have stories affected the world as we see it and experience it today?  Have stories affected the discourse of human history?  If so, how?

The simple truth is, we all have a story.  Every human being on earth has a story to tell, and those stories are precious.  Each of us provides a unique vantage point upon the world in which plays into the perspectives and worldviews of others.  We often teach each other about the world through our stories.  Have you been influenced by someone else’s story that has impacted your own life?  If you are a fan of stories or story telling, I ask that you follow me through this post.  I challenge you to think of the stories that have affected you, and also to acknowledge your own biases as you think of those stories.  Why were they impactful to you?

How do you see Africa?  What do you picture in your mind when you read or hear the word “Africa”?  Its vast landscapes, wild animals, and diverse range of cultural practices certainly makes the continent, or parts of the continent, a very tempting travel destination to potential visitors.  Do you also see a land riddled with warfare, disease, corruption, neo-colonialism, and discord?  This dichotomy, between the beautiful attributes against the ugly side of humanity is a lens, and many times the only lens, in which many people learn to view the entire of continent of Africa.  So often overlooked are the stories from Africa of family, warmth, compassion, and, most of all, stories of love.  Sound familiar to your own life?

Love is some intrinsic force that binds us and keeps us together as human beings.  Where there are people so too exists love.  Love encompasses the entire human experience.  I have experienced more love and compassion in South Africa over this past week than I have in a very long time.  So, across cultural differences, perhaps we have a more similar sense of relatedness to one another than some make it out to be.  Perhaps it is through love that we as people are brought together and made to reconcile past differences.  I once heard someone say that the smile is the universal language, and I absolutely adhere to that statement.

I recently saw a “TED Talk” by Chimamanda Adichie about the power of stories, and that how a single story is never the only story.  We must not allow a single stereotype or concept that comes out of a story dictate how we see a particular place or its people.  So often we view the world from a very singular perspective, but there are always multiple sides to one coin.  If you wish to watch, I include the link to that particular “TED Talk”.  I would highly recommend it!

Also, thank you, thank you if you contributed financially for me to undertake this experience!  Without you, this experience would not have been possible.