Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Why a Life of Service is not a Job, But a Life Style

With my second term as  an AmeriCorps  Service member half over and me reflecting on what my career plan should be. I have come to the conclusion  that I want to keep in the service industry and hope to work for a nonprofit. I have committed to a life style not a job.

I have spent most of my adult life living on other peoples terms… go to college, get married, get a job, and have a family. Not that these ideals are bad, they just seemed to be a little boring. I have always been rebellious, adventurous with a love for life. I want a passion filled life, with travel, new people and getting dirty trying new things. I want something more than the 9 to 5 with benefits that colleges promise. I want more from life than punching a time clock allows. Deep inside I want to make a difference in the world.

So at the complete worst time in my adult life after a surgery, heartbroken about a personal loss, and feeling unqualified to do much with a Fine Arts Degree, I started looking for work. A writer friend inspired me stop looking for a JOB and start looking for a life style. A life style that reflected what I really wanted. She helped me to see that what I was looking for was career fulfillment, not career advancement. How eye-opening that moment was for me.

In our visit she shared with me her Year of Service Story and introduced me to AmeriCorps, the Citizen Conservation Corps of WV (more often known as the three C’s) and Peace Corps. After our conversation I realized that my skills and passions could all make a difference right here in West Virginia, the place I love most.

I have been fortunate to serve as an AmeriCorps Member in Elkins, West Virginia for the last 18 months where I work with AFHA (Appalachian Forest Heritage Area), a regional initiative to promote heritage tourism, conservation and education based on forest heritage. AFHA, AmeriCorps is funded in part by Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service and by the Corporation for National and Community Service.  As a service member for AmeriCorps I have had opportunities to meet, work with, and learn from some of the most interesting people in the state.  My Site, Elkins Main Street, is deeply committed to working with local and state government officials on projects that help to bring jobs, investment, growth and prosperity to our community.

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First Lady Joanne Tomblin and Elkins Main Street Director Karen Carper

At my Elkins Main Street site I work with community volunteers on making public art projects that preserve Appalachian culture and inspire people to take pride in their community. Working side by side with community groups like the Riverside School Association, we celebrate ethnic and social diversity, and cultural differences like at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebration.

Mrs Chisum at the MLK event. 2016

Riverside School Ass. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration 2017

Also as part of my AmeriCorps duties, I am asked to take time regularly to see and experience the culture and history of the community where I serve. A person cannot begin to make significant changes to the future of a community without first understanding its past and present. We are encouraged to see a wide range of locations in our service area, from the mountains, to the largest cities and oldest historic landmarks. For example, I traveled to the West Virginia Capital Complex to speak with Volunteer West Virginia about the role of the National Main Street Program.

 

Christopher runs the up the steps or the WV state Capitol 3-18

Dominic and the AFHA team in the rain at Beaver Creek Mill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left side: AmeriCorps members from AFHA touring historic Bear Creek Grist Mill cir. 1840, Summersville, WV.  Right side: West Virginia State Capital Complex, Charleston, WV.

AmeriCorps members are a team banded together over large expanses, doing the work of preserving and protecting the local environment, the history and culture of a people and encouraging travel and education about our unique locations.  AmeriCorps is a force for good in places where times are a little harder and people need a helping hand to building on their strengths. I am proud to say that I choose everyday to be a AmeriCorps Service member, because I want  something more than a job , I want  a lifestyle making a difference.

Highlands trail clean up spring 2017

 

Appalachian Highlands Trail trash pickup day 2017. Members of AFHA AmeriCorps collected 16 bags of trash for the trail foundation.

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Categories: AmeriCorps, Appalachian Mountains, community service, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Elkins Main Street, Elkins West Virginia, Monongahela National Forest, volunteering | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Sexy or Not My Family Has a Southern Accent

As many of you know I am not a native to West Virginia and grew up in Boulder Colorado. A place of almost no accent when speaking and a trait that is valued by the media. One of the things I treasure most about my family is their accent and choice of speech. I found my mother in laws accent endearing when she told stories about “putting up” the green beans from the garden or that her car was hit by a “buggy “at the IGA . She would tell us that she never enjoyed “beer joints” because of the drunks and “fightin”.  My husband likes to say “YOU ARE FIXIN TO GET A ASS WHIPPEN”when the kids have bugged him to losing his temper. Yet, while working with some of the Americorps members from farther south, I learned that having an accent is not always a thing people are proud of and that they have worked to lose it.  I have mixed feelings about people who train themselves to speak without an accent and who give up local language traditions. I wonder if we are losing something along the way?

I am not the only person who has wondered about this loss of accent. I had a nice conversation with a former English As a Second Language teacher recently who said that many her students also wondered why america is always trying make everyone look and sound the same. They wondered why in such a large place that we worked so hard to make even our towns and shopping centers look the same. We discussed how stereotyping works against southern kids and how West Virginia accents are viewed negatively outside the state. ” That southern accent makes you sound stupid” is still a very prevalent stereotype.

So when a person has an accent from the southern US, and they work extremely hard to lose that accent,what are we teaching them? Are we trying to say the place where you were raised has less value then someone who is from a place that has less of an accent less? Are the residents of the south less intelligent or less wise? Here is my point, some of our countries most intelligent and inspirational  and innovative people have come from the south and brought their accent with them, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, William Faulkner, Harper Lee,Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Would we want Dr. King to lose his southern accent?… Does he sound dumb or uneducated when he speaks?  If  you have never heard Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” here is a very short sound bite of that speech from 1968. I am guessing that there is not a single person who hears this speech that thinks this man is lacking in education and should lose his manner of speech.

Often,  it is our differences that make us stand out and make a deeper impression on others. An accent can be used in the same way that our personal appearance and dress can be. An attractive, well-educated, warm person is always going to leave a great impression with or without a southern accent. I just happen to like my friends and family wrapped up in the slow southern drawl of the hills and hollows of my home. I prefer to hear an honest story-teller who uses the local langue of their home. I find  a person’s home-grown style of speaking more interesting and pleasant over something  filtered through the expectation of others.  So take it from Chad Prather who explains to everyone all about having a southern accent and how to be proud of it.

Even Conan O’Brien knows that truth about the sexy southern accent and how he is just out of luck in the sexy accent department. So just remember there is always someone out their who loves the way you sound and does not want you to change who you are!

 

southern accent is sexy

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Chad Prather comedian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Southern Accent, Southern Speech, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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