My Favourite VideoThoughts, Feelings

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story”

TEDGlobal 2009: The Danger of a Single Story

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It’s a little known fact about me, but I absolutely love story. The idea of a narrative woven between events, amidst ideas, and straight through people—linking the body, mind, and spirit—absolutely fascinates me. “Real Life” (as we call it) has a beat, but until story, no rhythm; it has destinations, but until story, no goals; it has life, but until story—no purpose. I believe that story is the most fundamental piece that makes us people. Only through conscious recognition of pattern-building based on perspectives do we start to understand a deeper meaning to existence.

Which is why Chimamanda’s TEDtalk on the dangers of the single story is so important to me. Stories are who we are, and when our stories are defined by others, in only one way, we are lesser for it. The me that I know I am is unmade, and an empty, monstrous shell left in its place. No one is only one thing, and every facet we display to the world deepens our connection to it. It’s easier, sure, to only see one story of a person; but it is wrong.

In Student Affairs, a lot of the work we deal in is building whole people, teaching students to embrace the many sides of themselves. We advocate for many-voices, we support the many-sided; we seek the many stories of the individual. So listen to Chimamanda’s stories about stories, and think about the stories that make up you; how would/have you felt when those stories were ignored? Then plan to see the multiple stories in others, and for us in SA, support the development and sharing of the individual’s multi-storied self.

“Stories matter; many stories matter.”


If you have a favourite TED talk, YouTube video, or other Internet based presentation that you’d like to share with #RyersonSA, Student Affairs in Canada, and other SA pros around the world, let us know! Submit a link to the talk to: StudentAffairs@ryerson.ca. Make sure to include where the talk is from (i.e. TED) and a short paragraph (no more than 200 words) on why it moves you and how you think it’s important to the work we do in SA.

  • Shannon Noonan

    I was just shown this talk at a training session provided for our “Alternative Spring Break” program put on by Carleton Student Experience Office. We provided this as training to students to prepare them for the experiential learning they are about to undergo by teaming up with a community in an entirely different culture to work on a project.
    So good to know we are all on the same page!