I have never tried to be the one, and in fact, I dislike the feeling of pressure imposed on the representative. Since watching Chimamanda Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story,” I have become less eager to share my story. On the one hand, I do not have the privilege of always keeping people’s attention, either because I am not a native speaker or I do not have a sense of humor. On the other hand, I do not want my imperfect expressions to be mistaken by people who are eloquent and know how to kill others using words.
This hesitation presents a dilemma. Growing up I always had in my mind an image of a story-teller, like my kindergarten teacher, although that figure speaks Chinese. I enjoyed both small talks and public speeches. I had confidence, since I knew my words were entering into people’s hearts. But after traveling thousands of miles to land in another country, I became unsure. There have been more days than not when I feel frustrated at my broken English, and there are countless times when I blame myself for being overly optimistic of my ability of studying humanities. Sitting in my classes, I am constantly thinking “I am so glad to learn the materials!” and “Can I really do this?” at the same time.
And this was the feeling I had during every moment I spent at The Cavalier Daily. I had the opportunities to speak with different individuals, such as local City Council members, politicians, business professionals, law professors, renowned scholars and students. Their unique experiences and insights made me excited to write stories, despite the fact that I often had to spend hours going over a dictionary to compare different connotations of words with similar meanings. A 600-word report did not seem long, but the reality was I always wrote ten different versions before deciding on the final. It was a rigorous battle with the extremely articulate person I wanted to be.
I once had a 70-minute phone conversation at 11 p.m. with a Miller Center scholar on the unprecedented presidential election. Another time I had a law professor patiently explaining different implications of affirmative action to me, realizing afterwards how superficial my definitions of “diversity” were. I almost shed tears when hearing the efforts of local non-profit Meals on Wheels through the philanthropy of Dave Matthews band. I did not need to come up with information because it was handed to me by great individuals, yet I had the power and responsibility to decide how to present the information. I was able to share my version of the story. I might not have a high volume of vocabulary or delicate grammar, but I always try to make people the center of my reports and strive to make readers feel just as how I have felt when interviewing people and putting the bites together.
I have learned to try, even while still having a sense of insecurity. I have also become more confident of being the one — the one who is learning African-American and African Studies as an Asian, the one who often thinks twice before talking and misses the chance to speak up, the one who still does not have a sense of humor and the one who wants to bring more people looking alike her into television and films one day. With many things that could easily mute me, The Cavalier Daily opened up a space where I felt achieved, not because of how many people read my articles, but because I could share stories in a genuine and humble way. At the same time, I want to express my gratitude to the people I worked with as well as those who kindly accepted my interview requests. Your warm looks and patient responses were the very reason of keeping me sane.
You know you had a dream when you are certain something happened but could not remember the exact details. I feel fortunate that after this dream, I could remember both the specifics and my mixed emotion of courage and fear. It is real because it is tough, yet it is beautiful because it has hope.
Daisy Xu was a Summer reporter and a News writer for the 127th term of The Cavalier Daily.