Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday was spent doing more construction so I’d like to use this entry to sort of summarize my thoughts of the experience and its lasting impression on me. These entries don’t even begin to cover everything that happened during the week, which itself is really only a small snapshot, I am sure, of the Appalachian culture. But just by doing this blog and chronicling these events, I can see how the values that Jones identifies run through the region and people and provide both with strength. The region is united by its close family and community ties and a deep faith. It certainly faces hardships but it faces them as a united community rather than a collection of individuals. This gives me hope that the region can overcome the issues it faces and also inspires me to look for that kind of strength in my own community.

I think looking back on it that the one uniting theme that wove through all the other values that I’ve referenced to was sincerity. There is such an honesty to everything that the Appalachian people do. It pervades the interactions the people have with each other and outsiders, its art, and their worship. There are no facades or barriers here. With people that have so little materially, there is no need to put on airs. However, by subscribing to this culture of honesty the people of Appalachia are richer than some millionaires. The honesty that then gives way to the other Appalachian values allows them to fully appreciate every encounter and experience they have and become enriched by it. A woman, who the Farm regularly brings volunteers to visit, said that she “is dirt poor when it comes to goods, but how many other people can say they’ve met such wonderful people like you?”.

The trip reaffirmed how much I like being around people and being a part of a community. From the volunteers I worked with to the people I served, they all taught me something about the region and about myself. It sounds cheesy but what I’m trying to say is that the themes of Appalachia can be widely applied. For that’s what I discovered: while the region certainly has something uniquely Appalachian to it, there is a common humanity to be found as well. The nursing homes and senior centers can be found throughout the nation and there is construction work that needs to be done in every county of the US. A strong sense of family and community would make any society strong. As an aspiring physician I realize that “being there” for patients is another way of saying Ministry of Presence and is another facet to the healing process. I realize that to be a good doctor (or really any profession where people are the main concern) is to take that to heart. I was actually so inspired by the week that I picked up an application to become a Farm Manager for a year. Whether I end up doing that or not I hope I can take these realizations and apply them to whatever it is I do in the future. After all, the lessons learned on the Farm aren’t meant to stay there.

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