Stories are important to everyday life, but a lack of stories can be just as vital. Stories grounds us in reality and open our eyes to problems in the world around us. However, for the most part, there is very little the average person can do on their own to fix these problems. As a defense mechanism of sorts, many people ignore the stories of others to allow themselves to go on with their lives. For better or for worse this is a reality in the present global community.
While single stories tend to perpetuate stereotypes, they do allow people to focus on the here and now, instead of wasting time worrying about problems they cannot help solve. Unfortunately, perpetuating stereotypes is probably one of the worst possible things that can happen in such a connected day and age. Stereotypes no longer reach a small number of people; before long the entire world agrees wholeheartedly with whatever this new stereotype says.
Personally, I know that I am limited by the number of stories and the experiences I do not have. Until recently, I have had no more elegant way to say it, but I can finally describe why I want to study abroad: I want to collect, protect, and spread new stories. Additionally I want to spread stories of my home. Even while traveling within my country I have encountered people with stereotypes, positive or negative, about other people or places that are also in the United States. I believe that the more distance there is between places, the more probable it is that stories will die out before they can spread. The more stories people hear the more they understand that they should not ignore new stories. They realize that they can do something about problems half way around the world: they can listen.