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Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins - September 4, 2018

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Photo of pinned Abuja on a map of Africa. May be used as illustration for traveling theme. (3908282)
Photo of pinned Abuja on a map of Africa. May be used as illustration for traveling theme. (3908282)

If I have 15 minutes to spare I will often listen to a Ted Talk podcast.

For anyone who hasn’t heard one of these before, Ted Talks are short powerful talks on just about any subject.

They are delivered by experts in their particular field and are almost without fail interesting, even if they are on subjects you know nothing about.

One Ted Talk that struck home recently was delivered by a Nigerian women who had completed her PhD in a university in USA.

The woman recounted how she was talking to a fellow student and was dumbstruck when the other student congratulated her firstly, on speaking English so well, and secondly for managing to get such a high level of eduction when she came from a country that was full of murderers and rapists.

The speaker explained that she spoke good English because that is the primary language of Nigeria. She then asked how the other student had got her information about Nigeria being a land full of rapists and murderers.

The reply was ‘from a film’. Our speaker replied that she was equally shocked that this student had managed to even live to tell the tale, being brought up in the USA when so many films depicted people being murdered.

The point the Nigerian woman was making, and the one that rang so true, is that it is important to see more than simply a ‘single story’. I am often stunned when people who know nothing about our area of the UK refer to it as ‘backwards’, or ‘in-bred’ or ‘full of second-home owners’.

I am sure that at some point it would be possible to find examples of all of those descriptors and many more derogatory terms besides, but it is also much more likely that those people who denigrate King’s Lynn and West Norfolk would be pleasantly surprised to find that the vast majority of people who live here are very much like the vast majority of people you find anywhere in the UK, or the world for that matter.

Like the Nigerian woman, most of us are looking to better ourselves, secure our family’s future, enjoy life and avoid trouble.

A single story might be the one that makes it on to the silver screen but only by reading the complex and entire myriad of stories will you get the true picture.

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