These past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to be reminded of the power of a story. More specifically, the impact of a story not yet finished. This piece of learning for me didn’t come as a result of a story I shared/told; rather it came from an experience.
Earlier this month I had the chance to serve on a scholarship committee at my school. What’s a bit different about this is that the first three principals have scholarships established in their names. And the three committees interview the eight finalists at the same time. These finalists emerged after careful screening of all the applicants. Some may emerge based on perfect GPAs or outstanding leadership positions. Resumes and applications that seem flawless often bring interest. However, over the last couple years, I have been quite pleased as the committee has had the chance to hear students from all types of backgrounds with all types of experiences. Each of them has the chance to tell their story.
Similar to the last few years, at the end of the interviews, the members of the committee are always impressed by the students. And not usually in the way the adults might expect. The students have had the chance to show how they are so much more than what is on paper. And that they are more than a single story that someone might attribute to them.The challenges that kids face nowadays far exceeds my greatest dilemmas. I suspect that is true for most of us. I wrote about this in one of my first blog entries a couple years ago Thanks David Bowie. Ch-Ch-Changes. Each of us would serve our students and feed our souls in powerful ways if we would remember the impact of a single story. And recall that the best way to reach that access point is through relationships. In my experience, a relationship has the best chance to flourish when we simply listen. Establish a small bit of trust, show interest through questions, and then just sit back and take it all in. A paper resume can share some facts, raw numbers. It can even begin to add color to a portrait if there is an essay or personal statement. However it is only when we hear voice and see eyes and listen to a story that we are moved. And within that journey we learn more about someone else and we gain more understanding of ourselves.
I would encourage you to watch this 3 minute video of Chimamanda Adichie warning us about the conclusions we sometimes draw about others: The Danger of a Single Story.
Let me know what you think.