I recently wrote a piece of literature that touched upon Chimamanda Adichie’s wonderful TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story”. Adichie is a beautiful writer, and in her talk she very humbly addresses stereotypes and cultural misconceptions, touching upon both her own preconceived notions of certain cultures as well as those that were directed at her. Adichie urges us to remember the large variety of experiences that exist in the world, and the fact that what we have always held to be true–even the most seemingly obvious truths–may, in fact, be utterly biased.
Adichie’s words apply both to my experiences as a traveller and to my identity as a blogger. My blog, which started out as a narrow vision of the world (California girl moves abroad), has transformed into a social dialogue about the lack of a single comprehensive idea of the world. My blog, a method for contemplating the experience of moving from culture to culture across three continents and six years, has helped to erase the single story I had written of the world before seeing more of it. There is no longer a single culture with which I identify. I am not currently at home, but I do not necessarily feel fully comfortable in the place I grew up. Every individual plays witness to so many experiences that at any one moment intersect or overlap or run completely parallel to those of all other people in this world. The resulting image is not something that can be contained on one plane or in a simple summary. Reality is so very malleable, and it is especially so when we don’t stop to contemplate it–in a blog or journal or simple conversation.
I’ve realized in recent years that I never studied languages or moved abroad for the languages themselves (though how I do love the wonderous thing that is language). Through this blog, I’ve come to discover my passion for participating in and facilitating cultural exchange. As it turns out, I’ve been studying communication through language (take that, anyone who looks down upon communication majors–is that not what we all study, anyways?) Language, like Chimamanda Adichie’s multifacited world, undergoes nuanced change every second. Language, like cultures, is constantly faced with the difficult task of decoding and compartmentalizing that just doesn’t serve its poetic nature. Is it not more beautiful to just listen, and appreciate, before jumping upon the complicated task of comprehension? This blog has always served that initial purpose of rough contemplation before action.
Apparently, I am not done blogging, as I thought I might be. I will never have anything totally figured out. Someone recently commented that blogs are contentless ways to show off international travel, which has, of course, prompted me to reboot this dying medium of reflection. I like to hope there is something useful yet in this electronic world. I am, however, slightly changing my format. I have taken on a few extra tasks this year. Having always been frustrated by the lack of European/Estadounidense (fuck it, that’s the only adjective that actually makes sense. I am not referring to the Americas or even to the combination of Canada and the United States, but the United States specifically), I’ve begun a self-designed internship to research the possibilities for bridging the gap between these continents. I am also diving fully into the task of designing an ESL program for young adults, frustrated as I am with the content available online, which is outdated and generic. Therefore, this blog is going to take on a more professional image, with the goal of spreading information on teaching English and studying or working in other countries (whatever that means, relatively).
In the future, I will be posting all my ESL lessons on this site. Please, use them. I worked hard on them, felt the joy of using them successfully with my brilliant guinea pig university students, and want to share them. I don’t like the generic lessons that are normally posted online–I prefer to pull my material from this rich, rich world. Keep in mind, not every lesson will work with every group of students, and it’s important to play to the personality of every individual class, but if the subject grabs you, there’s a chance it will catch the attention of your students. My best lessons have always been those that are provocative and new, two things that inspire a feeling of strength and opinion in people who may be otherwise timid about their thoughts or language skills.
Finally, after an apparently long rant that is actually much longer in my unending thoughts, I am currently applying to graduate programs in international education and public administration. I hope to meet you in the future world of this profession, where there will hopefully be more ease and understanding in the convergence of differing world systems. Financially lucrative life, be damned. What I want is a life full of doubt, and wonder and otherwise lucrative moments that make money the most incomprehensible single story in this world.