WJI 2018 Blog Day 5, AM: Telling Each Other's Stories

May 22, 2018

Aspen Daniels


There are 26 of us from Nigeria, Canada, all over the US—and we each have a story.

Yesterday, after telling us what makes a good story, Mr. Pulliam gave us our assignment to write one.

As soon as we got out of lunch, we rushed back to the student center to interview each other. Some set up on the big stairs or in our classroom.

Emma Stoltzfus and I snagged a raised table by the glass wall, where we could look out at the gray clouds and thick, green Dordt College lawns.

Emma is almost 19, a short brunette with silky cropped hair and a quick smile. I hadn’t talked to her much, but in that hour we learned to know each other better than most close friends.

We tried all the questions they had taught us. “What was the hardest part about that for you?” Or, “where do you imagine yourself in ten years?”

I was shocked when Emma described growing up on the small island of Maui, Hawaii. In high school, her family was targeted by political opponents who wanted to prohibit genetically modified crops. This was because her father led the Maui site of an agriculture company that did just that.

She told me what is was like to feel afraid of death threats or rejection by friends. But her story didn’t stop there. She saw her family pull through and her faith grow.

When she left Hawaii to study at Dordt College, she was passionate about using her gifts as a writer and photographer to make a difference in the world.

When she had finished her story, I told her mine. We typed for three hours, one of our instructors gave us feedback, and then we asked more questions and typed again.

The classroom was a mess of laptop chords, pens and scattered handouts.

I was brain-dead by dinner-time. But I’d gained a new appreciation for my classmates and the stories each one of them can tell.

For more information:

World Journalism Institute