February 26, 2014 News » Cover Story

Trading places 

Beyond the single story

I'm on day seven of mud gut. Daniel's on his third, and Brett's just joined the party. Amanda can't get out of bed, and Megan, Tony and Irene are hacking lung so prolifically that they sound like seals fighting over a fish. Kylie is ... remarkably healthy. There's always one.

I can't say I didn't expect it, and more, from India.

When our Exposure Trip team first met at Yobel Market in Colorado Springs in early December, Yobel co-founder Sarah Ray and our team leaders had us watch a Ted Talk. It's called "The Danger of a Single Story," by the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and addresses what Adichie calls our default position: assumptions we make based on stereotypes and incomplete anecdotes, which ultimately rob people of dignity.

The story you'll read this week, see the big blue button below, despite its many voices, is still a single story. Nevertheless, I've tried to get beyond stereotypes, to take you from a fair-trade label on a bag to scenes of the people inside a single country and state who operate on the other end of that chain of commerce.

India ultimately surpassed my expectations, easily becoming the most difficult of 35 countries through which I've traveled. (For transparency: We did pay our way.) Inside of two weeks, I lost 10 pounds, later learning that I'd contracted Giardia.

But that would prove to be a temporary challenge. Some problems can't be fixed with antibiotics. For those, in Ray's words, you need love.


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