Mr. President I am very honored to have been given the privilege of educating you on this fine region that is Appalachia. It is an extremely great place, filled with great natural resources and some of the best people in the country. I am extremely confident that in just a short time you will be a proud resident of Appalachia. I have lived in this region all my life and I am extremely blessed to call these mountains my home.
Recently I took a class on the region called Appalachian Studies. It talked all about the region from music to family life. In taking the course it has shed light on why my family does things the way it does. So after taking this course and living in this region for so long I feel like I am the best person to clue you in on some things around these parts.
First I would like to tell you that not everybody that lives in Appalachia is a redneck, there is all kinds of cultural diversity and ethnic diversity. All this diversity came when people were needed from all around the world to work in the coal mines and no one ever left. Now that I got that stereotype out of your head we can move.
The next thing I would like to let you know is that family really runs deep around these parts. And what I mean by that is most families that have been in Appalachia for a long time aren’t planning on going anywhere soon. This is extremely evident when you are riding out in the country and you see a street sign that reads, “Gerwin Lane.” That is obviously a road that has nothing but Gerwins living there. You can even experience how tight knit the families are in this region by asking kids about it here at Tech. Most people from the region, especially the more rural parts, have no plans of going anywhere after graduation but back home.
The main issue you may face while being in this region is the extreme dependency on drugs. Appalachia does have a serious drug problem that mainly stems from pain killers. The reason for this is because in the heart of Appalachia there is almost no work to do but hard physical labor. And with pain killer prescriptions being easier to get then milk these days a lot of drug problems arise. Drug use habits are often passed down from parents to kids so you are going to have to keep an eye out for the use of drugs on campus. Another issue you may face is having to deal with a lot of students that are extremely poor. All they want is to go to college and be successful but in the mean time they have a hard time paying for food. If you can you should try to make sure that everyone attending this university can afford food one way or the other.
A big sensitivity you should have with your students and families from the region is lay offs. Many many people in Appalachia have recently experienced losing there job and for a lot of these people it has taken a toll. Maybe some sort of coping mechanism would be good for students who parents just lost their income?
The best way without a doubt this institution can invoke positive change is to set up scholarship opportunities just for kids that come out of the region of Appalachia. The more people we get educated in Appalachia the better off the region will be in the future.