Developing Community in Appalachia: Blake Evans

Blake Evans enrolled in LBAR 3910: Practicum in Liberal Arts during the 2011 spring semester. The course on Appalachian Community Development includes a week-long living and learning experience at the Clearfork Community Institute in Eagan, TN.

Spring break 2011 was one of the most adventurous trips of my life.  Who would have ever thought that, as part of an alternative spring break class, I would be riding four wheelers and splitting wood deep in the mountains and hollows of the Appalachian Mountains?  The time I spent in Appalachia was truly unforgettable.

One of my favorite memories of the trip is certainly the four wheeling that we did.  Four older gentlemen in the community took us through some mountains to see areas that had been stripmined.  It was a very informative experience because it allowed us to personally see the effects of coal mining on the land.  The men gave a great tour, and it was a lot of fun to be around them.

My very favorite part of the entire experience was interacting with the people in the community.  I have been on many “service” trips in the past, but this Appalachia trip was unique because it provided us with a large amount of time to actually get to know the community.  It made the trip special and worthwhile.  I will never forget Charles and Gayle, with tears in their eyes, telling us at the end of the week how happy they were to spend time with us.  The people of Appalachia are truly extraordinary, and it was great to spend a week working alongside  and getting to know them.

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