Whose story is it?

“Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking it’s your story. You’re just the one who gets to tell it.” -George B. Sanchez

Journalists sometimes talk about “the story,” but we often talk about “my story.” We can’t do our job without the people who share their experiences with us, but ultimately we hold the power of how their story is conveyed.

What would it look like if we shared that power?

A big part of what I love about teaching media is exactly that: re-distributing the power. Earlier this year I led a series of digital storytelling workshops with exchange students from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. One of those students was Emmanuel, whose story is below. In it, Emmanuel describes the fears and doubts he felt as he embarked on his U.S. exchange year. Would he be able to keep up? Would he meet all the program requirements? In an English exam on the first day of class, Emmanuel found his answer.

The story captures a universal feeling through a vivid, specific moment or journey. And it does so because it’s told in only the way Emmanuel could tell it.

This is not “my” story. This is Emmanuel’s story.