In our Young Leaders Reflect series, UACC is sharing reflections from area students who participate in the Urban Appalachian Leadership Project (UALP). Through UALP, Appalachian Innovation Grants have awarded the successful completion of three projects related to Appalachia that were led by six young leaders in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. Another project continues as we are currently accepting applications for the next series of awards. We are counting on our community to read and share our Request for Proposals with educators and students to help support and award the next generation of community leaders. We thank you for your outreach and support.
Lizziey Fahey, a student at Thomas More University, finished her project of teaching primary and high school students creative writing while staying busy attending cultural events and balancing her work and school life. At the end of her project, at the Storytelling tent at the Appalachian Festival at Coney Island, Lizziey shared some of the poetry that she had anthologized from her work with Oyler students. A talented writer in her own right, here Lizziey shares her reflections from having attended two local cultural events. We are honored to share her words here on the UACC Blog.
We hope Lizziey’s enthusiasm serves to inspire you to share our Request for Proposals with others who may apply to be part of our next round of award funding. Her Express Appalachia Homecoming reflection may also inspire you to attend our upcoming Express Urban Appalachian Showcase at the Aronoff Center on October 24, 2019. Click here for tickets.
Take it away, Lizziey!
In April, I attended a poetry open house at Pauletta Hansel’s home. It was an event that pretty effectively illustrated down-home hospitality. The house was full of folks talking, eating, and reading. The kitchen was full of welcoming tastes and smells. There was a bountiful supply of soup beans, cornbread, almond pear upside-down cake, and molasses raisin cookies, of which I was told, “They’re a little burnt on the bottom, but they taste good.”
After feasting, I found a spot in the solarium to listen to a poetry reading. I was sitting on a couch between two other women. The windows were thrown open, so we could hear a wind chime tinkling outside, and the curtains gently blew into the room. My grandma has told me that her favorite part of family gatherings is listening to the chatter and laughter of people in another room. This is something I distinctly remember from the open house: hearing joyful noise all around me.
I heard Pamela Hirschler, Savannah Sipple, Dale Marie Prenatt, and Pauletta Hansel read from their most recent poetry books. It was powerful to hear this group of Appalachian women preaching about faith, nature, sexuality, and home. I remember feeling so inspired to write after the open house. Hearing the poetry of these women motivated me to get to work.
In the days following the event, I frequently wrote in my journal—emptying my thoughts onto the pages. And as I continued working on my monologues in preparation for the Appalachian Festival, I started to insert more of my own experiences into my writing.
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I attended the Express Appalachia Wide Open Mic Homecoming at Thomas More University organized by other UALP students. The Homecoming was filled with joy and laughter and held all different activities including an open mic night!
During the open mic, I read two poems. My first poem was written by the Oyler High School Griffin newspaper staff. The poem was titled “When I Was Younger,” which I believed was the perfect poem to read at the perfect time because it was a creative way of expressing and sharing the students’ and a little bit of my own home culture. The second poem was titled “She Waits,” and it was a poem that I had written during my time visiting family in Michigan. I felt right at home during the Express Appalachia Homecoming. I can still hear all of the beautiful poems written by so many people including Pauletta Hansel, Dick Hague, and the writers from the Express Appalachia UALP group.
The music was certainly interesting too. I loved listening to the family band, Tellico, and the puppet-playing Bear Foot. They even invited us to try playing with the puppets to the beat. My favorite part about this event was not only the meeting of new people, trying all the different foods, and listening to new music that I never heard before but it was learning a new dance. I learned a new dance called the Dosey Doe, and it was fun and exciting. It was a dance that I never knew I needed in my life and certainly one I will never forget.
When the event was over and we all went our separate ways, I headed straight for work and taught all my coworkers the new dance I learned! Overall, the night was like a summer night, laughing and singing with family, and it will forever be one of my happiest memories.