Heart-Lifting for Disheartening Times – Storytelling Cultivates XENOPHILIA

It’s all so overwhelming and it seems everyone is tired, discouraged, maybe angry or cynical or depressed, maybe confused or disheartened…just weary.
Each day during this April A-Z Blogging Challenge I’ll offer a short musing on an aspect or two of the many ways the ancient-yet-very-contemporary experience of storytelling – both listening and telling – is an enjoyable, fortifying and heart-lifting practice, for anyone!

X – Storytelling Cultivates XENOPHILIA


XENOPHILIA is the love for, attraction to, or appreciation of foreign people, manners, customs, or cultures.  The word is a modern coinage from the Greek “xenos” (ξένος) (stranger, unknown, foreign) and “philia” (φιλία) (love, attraction, affection). (Wikipedia)

It is the antonym of xenophobia – a word which you might, sadly, be more familiar with.

[Xenophobia (from Ancient Greek ξένος (xénos) ‘strange, foreign, alien’, and φόβος (phóbos) ‘fear’ is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. It is an expression of perceived conflict between an ingroup and an outgroup and may manifest in suspicion by the one of the other’s activities, a desire to eliminate their presence, and fear of losing national, ethnic, or racial identity. (Wikipedia)]

Storytelling opens us up to enticing worlds of other cultures, times, places, peoples!

Being taken on adventures through distant lands and times, or encountering intriguing cultural details in stories of the everyday that are set someplace different from what you already are familiar with – being exposed to and gaining appreciation of new and different experiences, customs, and perspectives – these are some of the intrinsic joys of storytelling!  XENOPHILIA!

Whether a storyteller shares authentic, perhaps well-researched, hopefully always-respectful tellings of tales from cultures other than their own, and/or you get to hear tellers who are themselves from cultures and heritages different from your own sharing their cultural stories…taking in the opportunity and joy of such storytelling can really widen your understanding and deepen your appreciation of other cultures!

And in fact, whet your desire to hear and learn and experience more –


I know many storytellers who, through their work with learning, listening to, researching, and experiencing stories from a variety of different cultures, have come to be particularly attracted to one or more that they then take a deep dive into, learning about that (those) culture(s) and developing a wonderful repertoire of stories to share from them. And then everyone who gets to hear those stories gets to benefit from that teller’s cultural appreciation, and gain more of it themselves – a nice ripple effect.

Storytelling can truly engender appreciation, familiarity, and even love of another culture or cultures = XENOPHILIA.

What this world could use a whole lot more of.

After all, “the shortest distance between two people is a story.”

Thanks for reading – Pam

P.S. Fun fact: I used to live in Ecuador, and when I first saw the photo I chose for the top/featured photo of this post I thought it was of Ecuadorean women. Turns out they’re from Peru – which is not surprising, given how there are many similarities between the two Andean cultures. In any case, these women make me smile!

Photos, in order from top featured photo on down, by Deb Dowd, Samrat Khadka, Sergio Capuzzimati, Chris Chow, Jackson David, and Cesira Alvarado; all on Unsplash.