Student Blog - Samantha Hendrickson

Tips for Finals Week (featuring advice from Normandale Psychology instructors)

Interview with Normandale Student Hanin Ali

There is a famous Nigerian novelist named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. If you say her name out loud, with the correct emphasis on the right syllables, it sounds like a song. Though she already had written multiple works of fiction prior to this and has won several awards for them, she is most popularly known for her TED Talk "The Danger of the Single Story". Before an attentive crowd in the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford University, Adichie makes her case for the damage that stereotypes and generalizations of cultures, those "single stories", can bring upon our world, and the beauty to be found when we listen; listen to people, and listen to their stories. All of their stories.   

As a professional storyteller, Adichie understands the power of her craft, "Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity....When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise." (Adichie, 2009).  

If you've made it this far, you've probably braced yourself for a paper about stereotypes found in a Freshman Composition class. I promise you: this is a focus page, not an essay series. But in order for you to grasp my dreams for this page, I needed to give you a glimpse of someone else's journey rather than my own in this intro piece.  

That's what this project is all about. I'm going to be telling people's stories.

My name is Samantha. I'm a second-year student at Normandale, with plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities to pursue journalism. The first day I walked into this community college, May of 2017, I heard three different languages being spoken within five minutes of stepping through those College Services entrance doors. I saw people of all different shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, and codes. While I was blessed with parents who saw the importance of my knowing different worldviews, cultures, and people, thus exposing me to all those things, my access was still limited. I watched throughout where I lied as people so naturally separated based on surface level differences. At Normandale, I was suddenly immersed in what I hadn't ever experienced so fully before: diversity in community.  

Normandale is unique. No, I'm not just writing this to appease to marketing team or get on someone's good side for transfer rec letters; this is something that I have seen to be true each day I walk the halls. We are small, by college-size standards, which gives us an advantage. All of this diversity, whether it be in age, ethnicity, nationality, or gender identification, is at our fingertips. We have the chance to learn from one another in this school community in very deep and tangible ways, because of just how close we are to one another. We stand side by side with people who are different from us every day. Think of what we could learn. 

I want to end this introductory article with hope. My greatest wish for this page is to not just bring attention to what we already know (diversity), but to also harness that knowledge to strengthen what we already have (community). I look forward to this adventure with all of you: an adventure in learning, experiencing and communicating. Monthly, we'll dive into the stories of people you may pass every day in the halls, but never get a chance to speak to. May we read, may we listen, and may we grow.  

Thank you.  

Samantha Hendrickson