Often in English when I think of the concept “they say… I say…” I think of a debate. There are two opposing sides, and although words might be similar the sides never seem to agree fully. I went to the event “All College Hour Speaker Series: David Herd and Anna Pincus, Refugee Tales, “Art, Activism and Ending Detention”” for my anthropology class and listening to David and Anna speak lead me to think about a different type of “they say… I say…” that I often overlook.
David and Anna are a part of the charity known as Refugee Tales. They go and visit refugees in the United Kingdom. While they are visiting the refugees tell them their own story. Although the stories are often relayed to other listeners as an anonymous tale, these stories humble the listener and the refugee feels grateful and relieved that someone took the time to listen to their story.
The charity Refugee Tales does more than just listen to the refugee stories. They share them. They host walks like other charities; however, unlike other charities they don’t walk to take a stand or show support, they walk in solitude. The stories of these refugees are shared by the charity workers, yet they don’t do it in a way that tries to promote the charities voice or how amazing they are. They share these stories in a way that makes the listener hear the refugee’s voice. The goal of Refugee Tales in “they say… I say…” terms is that the they say matches the I say exactly so what is said is simply the refugee’s story and not the charity’s story. They walk and share stories based on the idea set forth in Canterbury Tales.
So often I find myself wanting to argue when I think of the idea of “they say… I say…” yet this charity focuses on letting the “I say” of the speaker match as closely as possible the “I say” of the refugee. This idea made me think greatly about how sometimes your “they say…” and your “I say…” CAN agree. Sometimes your “I say…” simply expands on what “they say…”. It is by no means an argument
Although when we share another person’s story we don’t always think of it as what “I say” is sharing the story “they say”, that is precisely what we are doing. Whether we do it as part of a charity or just in conversation. When we share another person’s story we are making our “I say” what “they say”. This is important remember as we consider how many authors and speakers can have the same views. Our “I say” can match what “they say”.