New Year, New Hopes for Appalachia

Happy New Years! For expatalachians, this has been a huge year. We released our first article in October. Since then we’ve been releasing at least one article every week focusing on various issues like elections, nature, books, and more. Thanks for going on this journey with us! We are looking forward to more stories and collaboration in the year to come.

In the spirit of the New Year, we decided to talk to a few Appalachian residents and expats about their accomplishments and disappointments this year. We also asked what hopes they have for the year to come.


Jessica
Pennsylvania
Environmental Science student, photographer, and lover of memes

What was something that made you proud this year?
“I worked at the RMU [Robert Morris University] counseling center. I was proud of our work raising money for the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. I wanted my university to have a voice and to be stronger than hate after the tragedy. I am proud to be a part of a group of people that were fighting for the same thing.”

Did anything disappoint this year?
“I was disappointed that I didn’t spend my year doing more things that I wanted to do. I felt like I spent a lot of the year waiting for things to happen. It felt like I wasn’t doing a lot during the summer. I was just waiting… waiting for anything to happen. But then once school started I was waiting for my birthday. And now I feel like I’m waiting for the new year.”

What do look forward to in the coming year?
“I look forward to graduating from college. I look forward to seeing what will happen to me after I graduate. I’m curious to see how I will react to it. Who knows what will happen. You never know.”


Mahmoud
Ohio
Eggplant enthusiast, chocolate connoisseur, and intermediate skier

What was something that made you proud this year?
“I started some new hobbies like rock climbing and biking.”

Did anything disappoint this year?
“Not getting to see my mom. That’s about it, I try not to get disappointed.”

What do look forward to in the coming year?
“Traveling overseas and eating a vanilla ice cream over the summer.”


Sara
Virginia
City-dweller, expat, and avid tea drinker 

What was something that made you proud this year?
“Something that made me proud was seeing friends and family members go on to reach their fullest career and academic potential this year. I’m very proud and happy for my brother, cousins and friends achieving their academic dreams and hopefully going on to successful careers in the future.”

Did anything disappoint this year?
“I was a disappointed in our elections this year. Despite record numbers in certain regions, I think we complain a lot as a group that doesn’t show up to the polls. Better turnout equals better results.”

What do look forward to in the coming year?
“I’m looking forward to nurturing myself this year, as well as nurturing others. I think self care is something I’ve recently intentionally explored and I’d like to make myself a higher priority than I have in the past. 2019 will be a formative year hopefully.”


Drew
West Virginia
Expat, global wanderer, and educator

What was something that made you proud this year?
“For most of the year, I was a Professor at the American University in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a very conservative Muslim country where the education of females is frowned upon by large segments of society; and, “women-owned businesses” are very few and far between. There is a National Competition for developing and presenting a “Small Business Plan” for which the winning team is awarded a substantial financial prize to actually start their own business. There had never been an all-female team entered. Three of my female MBA students wanted to enter, and pursue their idea of starting their own business. Despite being told over and over this idea was futile, I immediately agreed to assist them. Long story short…they won! And, I worked with them to actually start their own “hand-made soaps” businesses, which is doing very well.”

Did anything disappoint this year?
“Having lived abroad for most of the past twenty-five years, I returned home to find a growing bigotry, hatred, and even violence towards minorities…races, cultures, and religions. Sadly, most Americans form their opinions from news snipets and sound-bite stories; few have actually spent time outside of the country. Part of the blessing of living overseas is experiencing “first-hand” the similarities of people of all cultures, and the amazing warmth and compassion I have found in every country I have called home. So, I take every opportunity I can find, in person, or on social media, to dispel the myths and false impressions, and try to bring a little of the world back home.”

What do look forward to in the coming year?
“Easy…my next adventure! I became Director of the PanAfrican Institute for Social Innovation several years ago, and we have grown tremendously during that time. We have offices on university campuses in Egypt and Nigeria, and on-going projects in seven countries around the African continent. There will be many possibilities for adventures with the Institute this coming year. However, my heart will always be in the classroom. And, fortunately, there is never a shortage of opportunities to pursue that love…I still have several countries on my bucket list!”


Happy new year! Here’s to learning more about Appalachia in the year to come.

Story ideas you’d like expatalachians to explore in the coming year? Email Annie at annie@expatalachians.com.

 


 

 

 

Annie Chester 
Pennsylvania
Chestnut fan, avid hiker, recent coffee drinker