Seven Billion Stories

I have always felt as though I was born a global citizen. Being half American, half Spanish, but born in London instilled in me a sense of worldwide connection, as well as an attitude of curiosity and wonder that continues to drive me today. However, despite my parents’ best attempts to expose me to the world, including saving up money to travel and encouraging the reading of foreign fiction, I feel as though my exposure has been curtailed. There is an attitude of ignorance and individualism rampant in the world today. As an internationally interested American, I must suffer through the stereotype currently held that affirms the apparent stupidity and ignorance of members of my nationality. The truth is, similar stereotypes exist for nearly all cultural groups and nationalities. This is simply because most humans do not bother to truly explore the stories of other humans who have endured completely foreign experiences and hardships. We generalize too often based on wholly untrue assumptions instead of delving deeper into the individual lives of people who are, at the core, exactly the same as we are. I believe much of this behavior could be attributed to laziness or to fear. I often wonder about the scale of the universe, and it does frighten me. There is no possible way to truly understand every single person on the planet, let alone a fraction of a percentage of the humans alive today. However, this should not present an obstacle to becoming globally engaged; in fact, it should serve as a motivation to do so. Factoring in the short time we have on this earth and the scope of its land and inhabitants, traveling, exploring, and learning stories should be facets of a lifestyle all of us hope to adopt as soon as we are able. Each time I read a biographical story or watch a TED talk concerning a fellow human and his or her life story, I become that much more aware of the struggles and wonders of life abroad. I have realized, as I have grown older, that others’ stories are even more important than my own. How am I to feel truly human if I only ever concern myself with my own affairs? Telling my story and understanding others’ lives by traveling, reading, listening, and participating will only continue to broaden my perspective and help me to truly understand all the beauty of this wonderful world.

Elena

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