Written By: Kadedra Davis
I participated in the ABE to Haysi, Virginia and I can honestly say I was not disappointed. Before the trip I took the liberty to look up Haysi, Virginia just to see where I was going, and the views that popped up were amazing. When I found out it was near the mountains I expected that was the main reason Haysi was one of my top choices. I began to read more and was shocked by how small the town was. I thought my hometown, Grifton, NC, was small, but Haysi was even smaller and unfortunately that’s when I began to stereotype in my mind. I began to think things like “What’s the culture going to be like? Will anyone be offended by my industrial ear piercing? How often do they have visitors?” One of my bigger thoughts was “How many African Americans are in this area, or how often do they have African American visitors?” I was afraid of the things I didn’t know.
I always told myself that I was not going to be one of those people who put labels on others or one who stereotyped, but there I was before I had even gotten there. I decided to make sure I went in with an open mindset and to be open to what the experience had to offer and I’m glad I did. I learned a lot of things from the trip and I’m hoping to keep them with me for the length of eternity. I learned that just because you may not have financial resources doesn’t mean you’re not rich in others areas. The people of Haysi were a very close community and because of that they were like a family. When someone needed help they were all there to show their support.
I had the opportunity to talk and to listen in on a conversation that was held between an ECU student and one of the locals. The question was asked “What do you like most about living in Haysi, VA?” She responded that she liked that it’s a small community and that she didn’t have to worry about her daughters when they’re out around town. She said she like how safe it was. I never realized how many perks and great things there were about living in a small town until I saw this community for myself. They were proud, rich in love and a held sense of community which I’m glad I got to experience this for myself.
I hope to be able to do this again and to make sure I continue to pass on the things that I’ve learned with others. Even though it’s cheesy and everyone knows it, you really shouldn’t stereotype anyone because you always learn more than you plan.