Experiential Learning

Jason Blaha

Carol Lee Donuts, Nov. 24th at 7 am

On November 24th I went to Carol Lee Donuts on North Main Street at 7 am. The time I went is important because going at that time gave me a different experience. It showed me the other half of Blacksburg. After living here for over a year I thought that almost everyone living here were somehow related to the college. I thought this because everywhere I went I only saw college students. The places I went to eat had students, the places I hung out only had students, and the places I stay and sleep in only have students. So I had not been exposed to anything else. But going to Carol Lee Donuts at 7 am changed my view. Everyone I saw out that early were older. I saw older couples out on an early morning walk on my way to the shop. The only others inside the donut shop were elderly. It introduced me to the other side of Blacksburg. There is a large retired community that lives here in Blacksburg. This experience is one of the few things I could have done to witness this. If I went out later in the day, I may not have witnessed this side of the community.

At first I did feel a little bit like an outsider, because I was the youngest person I saw out at that time by a few decades. I felt like I didn’t have anything in common with the older members of this community, but that changed. While waiting in line to order, I started talking with a couple that was ahead in me in line and while talking with them I no longer felt like an outsider. I realized during our conversation that just living together in Blacksburg ties us together. As a student at Virginia Tech I feel as though I am a member of the Hokie community, and leaving in Blacksburg makes you a part of that community too, I learned. So even though I felt out of place at first, that changed.

In class we learned a lot about how many times a person’s preconception of an area can be wrong, especially if they have not witnessed that area personally. And I found this to be the case here. I assumed because most my activities related to the college and I only interacted with students that the whole community was this type of person. But after immerging myself in the real community, I learned otherwise.

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