NaBloPoMo Day 9: Be the Change

What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

The world is a big place. My blog is a very small place. It’s a very small place where I started out by recording my experiences of being in a very big part of the big place: China, the farthest I’ve ever been from anything or anyone I’ve ever known or been familiar with.

Being in such sharp contrast to my surroundings forced me to look at what makes me me. To carve out a little world of my own, even if I had to chip a little tunnel through the Great Firewall of China to do it. Boy, was that a rush! Every time I logged on to my VPN and signed into my New York dreamspace. Writing down the details of me as I discovered them, fine tuning them as I wandered elsewhere in that part of the world, recording the ironies and anxieties of day-to-day alien life, etc. all became survival tactics, a way to hold on to some sense of self in a place where I was as completely invisible as I was blatantly visible. Like holding a mirror to the event after the fact. And so I thought aha! this is what my blog shall be: The Great Explainer of All Things Ethio/Diaspora. Visions of publishing a selection of the most groundbreaking posts in book form were vivid and frequent.

As I worked my way back from the edge of the world to its center, back to everything and everyone I’ve ever known and been familiar with, this “mission” intensified – for there is no richer ground for the identity-obsessed to gather material in than the place where it all began: Ethiopia – then it started to wilt and die, mostly because I got bored with the topic. It started to feel narrow, redundant, like too much navel-gazing, like get over it already!

Then, from heaven above, came National Blog Posting Month. The unpredictable daily prompts for every weekday (that’s to those of you who thought I was slacking off on the weekends) made me realize one mucho importante thing – I can write about anything! It doesn’t have to involve passports, immigration checkpoints, linguistic gaffes, ethnic come-ons or getting color-tested by an overly curious villager. Anything I write down, simply because it comes from my brain and though my fingertips, is part of The Great Explanation of All Things Ethio/Diaspora.

And that’s where I’m at now, the change that I hope my blog brings to the world – putting out there the idea that no single thing, way of being or thinking defines the Ethio/Diaspora. There are as many ways of being E/D as there are E/Ds. That’s a lot of us, in case you didn’t know. Is that a big or small change? Who are you asking? For me, it’s a big change. But who knows, maybe everyone else has known this all along. Wouldn’t be the first time I was late to the party.

There is a whole another level of change I want this little virtual puppy to bring, however. That is, to prompt more E/Ds to hop online, create a blog, and start adding their own contribution to The Great Explanation of All Things Ethio/Diaspora. I know a few myself who are contemplating it, standing at the edge of the water, dipping their toes in any second now. Use pen names, whatever, no one even has to know you’re writing the stuff. Just put it out there and someone will find it and be the wiser.

And once it’s out there it’s out there for good. Sort of like us.

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