Covenant United Methodist Church

Changing Lives with Jesus

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ASP 2014 Reflection - Lisa Panczner

July 13, 2014

My name is Lisa, and this was my first year participating in the Appalachia Service Project.  In my life, I’ve never gone any further south in the country than maybe Delaware, so the only thing I really knew about the North Carolina and Tennessee was what stereotypes led me to believe. However, of course, stereotypes are never completely true.  My first impression of North Carolina was when I was in the van.  I had just woken up from a nap, and all I saw was trees, grass, and mountains in the background.  Being that I’m from a suburban area and living near a very populated city, all I thought was “We’re not in Kansas anymore” which, of course, is ironic because I’ve never even been to Kansas, and what I was seeing was probably extremely similar to Kansas.  Anyway, being that I’ve never actually been to a place so serene and naturally beautiful, I was caught off guard.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until later in the week that I truly appreciated the magnificence of this far away land I was working in.

As far as the people go, stereotypes about them could not be more wrong. City people tend to see these “country folk” as uneducated, lazy, banjo playing hillbillies. While they might have the accent pegged, the people of the South are far from lazy. They need our help because of tragedies, horrible accidents, and disabilities that force them into the positions they’re in.  Southerners are the most proud, independent types of people I’ve met, and even though they’ve accepted our help, not all of them wanted it, simply because of their pride.  Everyone is so proud of what they have, no matter how much or how little that actually is.  Seeing and noticing this was incredibly eye opening for me, especially because my first impression of what they have was a very negative one.  I’m used to the convenience of having more than I really need, but then not appreciating it all.  In the area we were working in, the people appreciated and were so grateful for everything they had and received.  The money of course is important to them, but family is the number one priority.  They value family and relationships more than anything, and that was like a breath of fresh air.  As a teen who doesn’t exactly get along with her family 100% of the time, this southern value was perfect for me to witness.  It saddens me that a lot of people in today’s world don’t have the same values in their family, and money is a top priority.

The beauty that the people of Appalachia radiate is inspiring.  Seeing how they live day to day and how different it is from what I know was beautiful.  The differences in culture, value, strength, and faith is beyond what I could’ve imagined, but ASP allowed me to fully experience it all, first hand.  I came back from this trip a different individual, different in a very positive way.  The Appalachia Service Project was a phenomenal experience that anyone can only fully understand by going, and seeing, and learning for themselves.  Just like a picture, us telling you about the trip doesn’t really do it any justice.  However, I am incredibly grateful that I was able to learn and grow from the trip, and I truly cannot wait for the years to come. Thank you.

~ Lisa Panczner

Previous Callers

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