Leading: Women of Color

Published June 15, 2022

Dedicated to the lives lost in the Uvalde and Buffalo Shooting; we need to do better.

Dear readers,

Happy summer! We are happy to finally be done with school and enjoying the warm weather.

We originally planned to do an edition on leadership in general. However, we quickly realized this was too broad of a topic. After looking at the interviewees we’d already done, we realized most of our interviewees are women of color. This is a perfect example of intersectionality (between women and people of color), something we briefly talked about in our last edition. What better people to shine the spotlight on?

Speaking of news and major events, we have an exciting announcement. The name of Village Regional Library was officially changed to Oberlin Regional Library!! You can see the name on the sign by that library. This was a long process but well worth it. Check out page 15 to learn more about this exciting day.


Leeya and Adalia

LeaDEIng to the Future: Featuring Raven Heyward

“DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] is not just about race, it’s about all aspects that make people different…Diversity needs to be celebrated. To be different is to be great.” ~ Raven Heyward ~

Check out tinyurl.com/diversifyher to listen to DiversifyHER, Raven’s podcast on Spotify!

The business world is largely a male-dominated workspace with mostly white viewpoints. The question is, how can we become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI)? We interviewed Raven Heyward, a fellow Gen Zer who has done amazing things to spread awareness about these issues, specifically for women and people of color.

Introducing Raven Heyward

Raven Heyward is a senior at Enloe High School, where she is on the equity team. She often feels like Enloe is a school inside of two schools, despite it being one of the most diverse schools in the area. She is attending UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kennar-Flager Assured Business Program as a Will Fellows Scholar and received an Academic Scholarship. She attended a youth business summer camp at Columbia University and participated in FBCLA throughout high school. Raven discovered her interest in business through the AP Capstone Program at Enloe High School where she researched how DEI policies were affected in the business world. Raven also has a podcast called DiversifyHER. She created it to “facilitate open dialogue by educating herself and others about DEI.” Raven loves how her podcast allows her to meet people that are her age and hear about their personal experiences.

However, it wasn’t just the AP Capstone Project that inspired her. She also faced adversity at a Yale Business Camp, where she was put in a class with all non-native English speakers. She felt like she always had to prove herself, since the group didn’t listen to her. To us, she posed the questions, “Am I always going to have to prove myself?…Is this something other women are facing and are there any policies in place to make it more welcoming?” This led her to spread more awareness about the issue.


As mentioned, Raven has a podcast called DiversifyHER (check it out on Spotify at tinyurl.com/diversifyher) where she speaks with DEI leaders about representation for women of color. Her mission is to “provide exposure for young girls, develop mentorship opportunities, and brainstorm solutions to further increase equity for this demographic of society.”

Raven says that the most important thing she learned from her podcast was the importance of patience in the corporate world. She understands that a lot of the executives have been in their field for 10+ years and the change is happening slowly. Raven realizes this work is forever changing but will never stop being crucial.

DEI in Depth

For starters, DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Diversity is everything that makes people different. Equity is giving people what they need. It’s often confused with equality but equality is giving everyone the same thing, while equity is meeting their needs. Raven explained this comparison as shown in the picture to the right. Finally, inclusion is making sure everyone feels heard. This means not only being given a seat at the table, but having a voice at the table and feeling like your opinions matter. The bottom line, DEI is about making everyone feel welcome and valued.

Implementing DEI

Raven points out that oftentimes DEI is all bark and no bite. Companies say they are being supportive of DEI policies but there may not be any action behind it. Other times, companies just want to check off the box and meet the minimum quotas so they can call themselves diverse.

Luckily, this is not the case for all companies. Raven recently interviewed Nasiya Acklen, who is the DEI manager at Discover Banking. Raven said she learned about how Discover was working on being more transparent, internally (with hiring and recruitment) and externally. For example, Discover released a public DEI report about what the company has been doing. Another example is Google creating an equity board to make sure employees feel more included, specifically with groups geared to helping employees have a safe space.

Even if DEI is good, it can be hard to get the people in power to listen. Raven says an open conversation often does the trick, but in other instances, it just takes time. For people trying to enter a company, it’s about who you know, the hiring process, recommendations, and internships. 


To Raven, “leadership is all about service…leading by example [and] staying humble” For example, being an active listener and always taking new opportunities, realizing that the work is never done. Raven uses her podcast interviewees as an example. Her interviewees show leadership as they are not paid for being on the podcast and don’t have to do it. This is a way of giving back to the community. 

Diversity is a big part of good leadership. Being a leader means recognizing that the people you are leading don’t always come from the same background as you. Raven cites her elementary school as an example. She says the school had seven pillars of how to treat others which included being proactive and starting with an end in mind. To sum up diverse leadership in the 21st century, Raven told us, “We’re seeing a lot of progressive moments, so you have to be cognitive that sometimes people are going to think differently than you—they’re going to have different opinions from you. In leadership, you have to be able to take that into consideration.”

Responding to Criticism

One woman that Raven spoke to is one of the only women of color in her job as an investment banker. She describes her experience with microaggressions or subtly degrading comments that could be intentional or not in the workplace. Other men in the office would make comments about her having to go home and take care of her kids. They would ask “are you going to get fast food for your kids tonight?” These comments were not necessary and the woman had to compose herself without getting angry. That woman had to keep moving forward despite the comments, though she went back to address them later. Raven spoke highly of these actions that the woman took in being the bigger person.

DEI Difficulties

DEI faces criticism for how it can be biased and doesn’t choose the best person for the job. Raven responded to this by saying every company is different. The main solution can be a DEI consultant to see what exactly it is that needs to be fixed. For example, sometimes the company only meets one part of the DEI criteria. They may need to work on being more equitable and inclusive even if they are already diverse. Though these things go hand in hand, they can also be fixed separately to make the whole company better.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, Raven believes that good leadership and DEI policies are becoming increasingly important with Gen Z, especially with the role the media and current events play. We definitely have our work cut out for us!


The Batman by Leeya

Action movies are often overlooked as lessons on leadership because of, well…all the action. Recently, my dad and I watched The Batman. To me, Batman encompasses the true traits of a leader: sacrifice, selflessness, bravery, and force of good. Although his tactics may be controversial, it is his inner traits that prevail. Batman is a true public servant, putting the people before himself. Going into the scariest of situations as fearless. Sacrificing his own well-being and oftentimes his relationships and loved ones. Aside from this excellent example of leadership, the movie is filled with great cinematography, a complex storyline, and fantastic music. Although the movie is long (at almost three hours!), the pacing is so well done that the viewer enjoys every minute. The Batman is definitely my new favorite superhero movie.

The First Lady by Leeya

Presidents: the most powerful people in the world. But next to every president is their partner. The First Lady exhibits the sacrifice and change that many spouses bring to a job they didn’t ask for. The First Lady jumps between the stories of Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford and their time at the White House. While they are all so different, their struggles of adjusting to life in the White House are often the same. This show is a great example of leaders stepping up, even when they didn’t ask for it.

Hamilton by Adalia

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton was originally published in January 2015, but I didn’t hear any of the music for at least three years. When I did first hear the music with a friend of mine, the fast-paced rapping beat was hard to follow, but fun to follow along with. Later, during several of my history classes we listened to various songs, like My Shot and Right Hand Man, to learn more about the Patriots versus the Loyalists and the US Revolution in a more interesting way than a lecture. Then, the Disney recording came out, and since COVID had theaters closed down, Mom and I watched it. The play, in recording form, was disappointing. (WARNING: watching a recorded play is not the same as watching the play!) Everyone I spoke to about Hamilton had only good things to say (of course, after accusing me of not seeing it yet).

The popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton only seems to keep growing. In fact, during the depths of quarantine, the recording of the play on Disney+, reportedly had close to 3 million views within 10 days of debuting! But the popularity of it is not wrongly handed…once you’ve seen the live play. I was recently able to watch it and it is WONDERFUL and AMAZING.

There are so many components to the musical that make it incredible to watch (note: I didn’t put this in any particular order, because all aspects were amazing): first of all the music is so in sync with the actors’ movements that it felt like things were happening in real time, in the real moment. Secondly, the moving stage added an additional dimension to the play, because the actors were able to play with time in several different scenes, making it seem to slow down and even stop (still with the music in sync, of course). The props on the stage were wonderful as well because they fit every scene, whether it was the bar where so many important plans were formed, or at the Winter Ball, where Hamilton first met the Schuyler sisters. Additionally, the lights seemed to be a character of their own because they moved with the actors and changed colors with the emotion of the plot. Finally, the actors themselves were incredible with the depth of emotion they showed with their body movements and vocals. They expressed the story so beautifully and being in the room with them felt extra special. I must admit, I still don’t understand all the lyrics to all of Hamilton’s music, but watching and listening to the music live was especially incredible because of the music and movement that went along with each word and because the actors added little quirks to their parts that made it even more special.

The history behind who Alexander Hamilton was is incredibly interesting, as well. Like every person, he wasn’t perfect, but he has a great story of rising up for something he strongly believed in. Hamilton was born and orphaned on a small Caribbean island before being taken and supported by several patrons who sent him to New York to pursue an education. There he was almost immediately involved in speaking up against English rule, soon rising through the ranks to become George Washington’s senior aide as the US Revolutionary War began. Once the war was over his contributions continued, including creating our financial system and the US Coast Guard.

If you ever have the opportunity to watch Hamilton, definitely take it because watching it live gives the viewer a whole different appreciation for the history behind all of the characters who influenced Hamilton’s story (including Hamilton himself).

Lord of the Flies by Adalia

*This review spoils the book (under the assumption that most people have already read it—in a high school English class)

Lord of the Flies is one of those books that almost all school children have to read at some point in their educational career (at least after the book was published in 1954). And while the book is a little slow and full of metaphors and imagery the class must discuss, it does send important messages about leadership. For those who don’t know the plot, it begins after a group of schoolboys have crashed onto a remote island, during (what’s assumed to be) World War II. Almost immediately, cliches are formed: between the choir boys, or “hunters,” and everyone else, between the littluns’ and biguns’, between the fat, almost-blind kid, Piggy, and everyone else, and so on. But they are able to come together to vote for a leader and create several basic rules, the most important of which says that when the conch is blown, an assembly has been called, and everyone must meet at the “platform,” which juts out into a lagoon by the edge of the shore. Naturally, this rule doesn’t last. And for a number of reasons, too: the hunters want to hunt pigs, the littluns want to play, only Ralph and Piggy want to keep the rescue fire burning, and, supposedly, there is a beast roaming the island.The way William Golding weaves figurative language into every aspect of this novel is cunning (it gets the message across and makes students stress over the meaning). Instead of showing the strengths in leadership, Lord of the Flies portrays the weaknesses in humans and our leadership: how easily it can be created and then dismantled, and how much emotions and thoughts impact it. The very ending of the book when a naval officer comes to rescue the boys holds the most irony of the whole story: Ralph had been hoping for an adult to come and save them from all the self-inflicted violence, but the adult who comes has a job that literally centers around…violence.

Alone in Disneyland: An Interview with Mithu Chaudhuri

By Leeya

Mother’s Day was recently and my family and I celebrated by making my mom brunch. I made Quiche Lorraine since my mom loves French food, and my brother made pineapple cake. My dad made a lovely arugula salad to go along with it. On Sunday, we went to lunch with my grandparents to celebrate with my grandma. 

During lunch, I asked my grandmother about what her experience of being a mother was like. She proceeded to tell me about the loneliness and depression that she faced while raising my dad in a new country. My grandmother immigrated to the US at the age of 20 and had my dad at the age of 21. She told me that would dream of her family being able to see her son. She had to read parenting books to learn how to raise a child with no prior experience, internet, or advice from her family to go off of. My grandfather would work long hours since he was a surgeon so he was not around much. My grandmother also worked as a biologist and had to manage working while being a mother. 

I thought this was an amazing story and needed to be heard. The next week, I set up and conducted an interview with my grandma. Instead of turning this into an article or editing anything out, I decided to paste the raw interview in since it was so impactful. I’ll let my grandma’s words speak the rest. 

Mithu Chaudhuri (MC): My full name is Mithu Chaudhuri. I’m a board-certified cytotechnologist and I used to study cancer cells under the microscope in the lab. Professionally, I did this for several years. And later on, I also worked as an office manager for my husband’s surgical clinic for several years too. 

Leeya Chaudhuri (LC): So when did you move to the United States? 

MC: I moved to the United States in 1967, on the 11th of September. 

LC: Where did you move to the United States from?

MC: I moved from Calcutta. Nowadays, they call it Kolkata, India. 

LC: And what did you hope for your new life here in the United States? 

MC: We always thought that the USA is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Lots of opportunities here. It’s kind of like a Disneyland. Everything is so neat and clean. And people are so nice and helpful. And you can achieve anything you want to if you make your goal high and work hard. Though I was very young when I came here, my brother was in the USA for a couple of years (and then he went back) so I had a lot of stories from him.

LC: So, what was your actual experience of moving here? Can you describe your first day or first week in this country? 

MC: Yeah, when we first flew from Calcutta to the USA, it was a long, long flight. We stopped over in London, England. And then when we first came to the airport, my husband’s classmate and friends came to pick us up from the airport. When I got into the car, the car was going at such a high speed—I couldn’t believe it. I could only hear the fast car noise but no honking. That really surprised me because when you live in India it’s so noisy. You constantly hear cars honking, rickshaws going, and so many people because it’s so crowded. 

LC: So, now we know what surprised you and how you thought the US was going to be like a Disneyland. But, what was the United States actually like for you?

MC: Well, first of all, I had a little bit of a hard time understanding the accent of the people because I was not used to the American accent. But then slowly I got used to it by watching TV to understand the accent. I also found out the people are extremely helpful. I started going to school at Washington University, in St. Louis. I had a hard time understanding the lecture of the professor because of the American accent. I had a friend named Fluffy Butler. She was so nice and she took me to her apartment. We would exchange all our notes so I could read and study nicely. And that was so helpful. I felt very much at home and comfortable.

LC: What was the hardest part for you about moving to the United States? 

MC: The hardest part was I was missing my family because I was the youngest in my family of 10, so I had a big family. I was a little bit spoiled too. As you can imagine, as the youngest in the family, I was really missing my family. Everything I was doing, everything I was seeing, I always feel like sharing that with my family. I was really missing them a lot so it was very hard for me.

LC: Well, how did you overcome that? What were your survival mechanisms or solutions? Where did you find strength in the difficult times? 

MC: Well at that time we could not call on the telephone as we do so anytime I’d feel homesick, I’d start writing a letter in the blue envelope aerogram. It used to take four days to get a letter to India. I also started mixing with the people, making time to make friends, trying to watch television, and studying for my classes. And on the weekend we used to have a get-together with our Indian friends. And we used to have a lot of happy times like having a good dinner. Also, sometimes we used to sing together and talk about India. Talk about this country. That was a big outlet but still, it was hard. It was very hard. But slowly I got used to it.

LC: Now you raised and had a kid in the United States at the age of 21, correct? 

MC: Yes.

LC: Can you tell me a little bit about what that was like?

MC: OK. That was very hard because my husband was a surgeon and he was working in the hospital all the time, especially during his training time. I did not have anybody really. I moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where our son was born and I did not have very many Indian friends who could help me. But, I had a very nice neighbor next door who used to live in a duplex. When we first came from the hospital with a little baby, the man and his family took a nice picture of our baby and then enlarged it and gave it to us. We tried to find a babysitter and we started interviewing because I still had to go back to work. We ended up finding Mrs. Pearl Bush who was an elderly lady. She was very nice. She used to come to stay with us. Even then, I was always dreaming that all my family members would come to see my baby. But nobody was actually coming, so I was kind of depressed in a way. And then I was reading a book written by Benjamin Spock about how to raise a child. So I started reading that book and reading a lot of instructions. You know: how to feel the temperature of the water and all those things. There’s no telephone so we couldn’t call India and get all the advice. But of course, my husband being a doctor helps a lot. But he was not there most of the time but it was, it was a struggle.

LC: Did you ever think about moving back home? 

MC: Yeah, we thought many times about moving back home, you know…I did not go back to India for five years because we did not have much money at all. We couldn’t afford to go back. And also for my husband getting the day off was very hard. Then slowly, we got adjusted here and started liking it. But there are a lot more opportunities here than in India. There’s a lot more opportunity. You can be anything you want to be.

LC: So there was attempting to move back home, but when was the moment where you really felt like you made it here in America, you achieved the American dream? 

MC: Well that…When I started working, that made a difference because if you are happy with your profession, you’re thinking or doing something. Attending the conference. Taking the board exam. Meeting with different people. Seeing a lot of interesting cases. Then my husband was very happy with his training, though he worked very, very hard so we’re achieving whatever we wanted to do. But it took time. A long, long time, but slowly slowly we’re getting used to it.

LC: Now, can you tell me exactly how much money you were making in the beginning?

MC: It was very little money, about $400 probably. And out of that, there is a rent towards probably $250 or something. So there’s not much money left, and that’s another reason we couldn’t go back to India because we had to save all the money for the plane ticket. So it was hard. But, our demand was very little. That time we were so busy doing our work and achieving our goal. 

LC: Well, thank you, Tha for all of your sacrifices that you made. No words will ever be able to express my thanks because I wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you for listening.

MC: Thank you.

Living Locally: Library Name Change

As you hopefully know by now, we have been working with Ms. Cheryl Williams of the Oberlin Community and with the Wake County Commissioners to change the name of our local library in the Village District Shopping Center. We are proud to say that we have finally done it! It was a long process but well worth it. To illustrate this long process, we have created a graphic organizer at the bottom of this “article.” We also added our thoughts about how the final meeting went, so you can know what we were thinking in that moment. 

ADALIA: The whole time we’d been petitioning, I’d had this present-moment mindset, where everything we’d been doing was items on a checklist. I didn’t really understand the importance of #ORVL. Then, Leeya and I got up to give our speech with Ms. Williams and as I was saying my part, I had this sudden anxiety that this would all be for nothing—maybe the name wouldn’t be changed…even though Leeya had expressed her growing confidence that it would several times. When Ms. Williams began speaking, the importance of what we were doing hit me—this name change would teach more people about Oberlin Village’s beautiful and rich history…It would encourage our community to learn more about the past, and…it would be doing it through something other than that usual white-washed lens that history is told through! I kept thinking, How have I never realized this before? because it seemed so stupidly obvious once I did. This was something that people were working towards all across our country and the world, and we, Adalia and Leeya, two high schoolers (when we started we were middle schoolers), neither of whom can drive or have a college degree did something that makes a difference! We did something that is important to a whole community, and especially, I think, to Ms. Williams.

LEEYA: The County Commissioner meeting couldn’t have gone better. The date was symbolic, the meeting was special, and the discussion of the library renaming led to so much more. As one of the commissioners stated, “This library renaming is an example of how citizens can very much bring things forward. This is truly democracy in action.” Personally, this process has taught me so much as we’ve learned very young about how to be effective in getting something done on behalf of the community. For everyone reading, I want you to know that no matter how young or old you are, you can get things done. That is one of the things I love about democracy. The date of this meeting was also very special. It was 54 years ago on the day of the meeting when Dr. King was assassinated. As one of the commissioners explained, “To see that the legacy of inclusion and celebrating communities is continued, is really heartwarming. Libraries are where education happens. Libraries are where dreams happen.” I want to conclude my thoughts of this name change by sharing a story. In 2015, Pearl Thomson, a resident of Wake County and student at Shaw University during segregation, was denied a library card and access to a book. The librarian broke some rules and let her in the basement where Ms. Thompson was allowed to look at the book but not allowed to check it out. In 2015, she was invited back to the library and given a library card. As the library director said, it was a “… chance for us to right a wrong, chance for us to educate people, chance for us to help heal. Seven years later, we are back here. If there is a way we can help celebrate a community, educate, and heal in a small way, we should do it. By renaming the library, it can be done.”

Below is a timeline of our experience petitioning from when the idea was sparked to the final decision for the name change:

Seen: A Profile on Triangle Rising Star Winner Symoné Spencer

“I want to be seen. And no matter what, I know I have a gift.” ~ Symoné Spencer

Starry, sparkly, and full of euphoria. This describes Symoné Spencer’s eyes as she told us about the moment when she won Triangle Rising Stars. 

A Brief Bio of Symoné Spencer

Symoné Spencer is a senior at Enloe High School. She will be attending UNCG in the fall, majoring in musical theater. Symoné has been singing since age two and doing theater since 5th grade when she was cast as the lead in Annie. She loves adventurous feats and even went skydiving for her 18th birthday! She dreams about going to Broadway and creating her own music business.

What she loves about theater is how she can connect with different cast members during each show and the familial bond that is created by doing theater. Ironically, Symoné is able to express herself best by playing a different character. 

Her favorite person to play was Leading Player in Pippin because it taught her a lot about herself. Symoné says “it wasn’t me just going on stage to recite lines–I had to give 110% every performance because of how hard the character is.” 

Triangle Rising Stars

Symoné explains that she submitted individually rather than through her school. Contestants must submit a short film introducing themself, an introduction of their 32-cut bar song, and a 30-second dance. Two to three weeks later, finalists are notified. 

Symoné sang “Don’t Rain On My Parade” by Fanny Brice. In Symoné’s introduction to her song, she talked about finding the inner beauty within, staying focused, and staying true to who you are. Symoné says “I know usually as an African-American girl, it can be hard in the musical theater business. Fanny Brice—even though she wasn’t seen as the regular girl who would be seen on Broadway—still stayed focused and she still maintained, I’m a star and you’re gonna see me.”

Throughout the week leading up to the finals, Symoné and the 20 other finalists were together all the time. Rehearsal was 8-11 hours a day! She says they grew into a family and connected as people. Symoné says “I don’t think anyone was thinking about the competition during those rehearsals. We were just connecting as people and enjoying the moment because we all enjoyed theater and that’s something we all wanted to pursue.”

Winning TRS

The moment of winning Triangle Rising Stars was shocking for Symoné. Symoné didn’t know she was going to win until it was announced to the entire audience. Symoné told us that she didn’t plan to cry, but she did end up doing so amidst the screams and shouts of congratulations. For her, “It was a really shocking moment. I honestly don’t know how I felt in the moment. I just knew that I was…I wouldn’t say overwhelmed but it was a great feeling!”

After Symoné won, she and Joshua (the other winner) went straight into interviews with Broadway World, and then they got to see their families. Symoné describes it as an “unreal moment” that she didn’t process until the next day.

As part of winning, Symoné gets to attend the Jimmy Awards in New York. It’s essentially a national, higher-stakes version of Triangle Rising Stars with the best actors and actresses from around the country. In New York, Symoné will be able to work for 10 days with the best Broadway artists to do workshops and MasterClasses. Symoné is most excited about meeting new people and Broadway artists, and working with her vocal coach. This is Symoné’s first time going to New York for Broadway.

Symoné’s Advice

Her main piece of advice to aspiring artists is to never compare yourself to others because each person has their own individual gift. One thing she loves about the arts is that it allows everyone to be congratulated for their uniqueness. Symoné recommends those interested in musical theater, dancing, or singing do Triangle Rising Stars. Symoné says “It’s more than a competition–it is a chance for you to build connections with other people that love and enjoy [doing] the same thing as you.”

Living Locally: AAPI Month Events

By Leeya

This month is Asian American and Pacific Islander History (AAPI) month. Although we didn’t get to do an edition on APPI this year, I still wanted to mention it. In celebration of AAPI month, my family and I attended several events.

On late Friday afternoon, we attended Wiley Elementary’s International Night. Since Wiley is a magnet school, children are given the option to learn one of five languages: German, French, Spanish, Japanese, or Chinese. Every year, Wiley holds an International Night to showcase what children have been working on in their classes and celebrate the end of the year. At this International Night, my brother and his dance school (Leela School of Dance), performed and taught traditional Indian dance called Bharatnatyam. In front of his entire school, my brother performed. He shared his culture with his friends and classmates no matter how scary it might have been. After the performance, his teachers taught the audience some basic dance steps and hand movement. There were all different skin colors, body sizes, and cultures, dancing and participating in the demonstration. It was great to see AAPI culture being shared with the school and celebrated.

On Friday night, we attended the AAPI Month event at Moore Square organized by North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT). You may remember that we interviewed the founder of this organization, Chavi Koneru, last month. The event had a great DJ, a breakdancing performance and demonstration, different AAPI cultural dances, and lots of vendors. It was lively and full of music.

Across the park, was a vigil for the people shot in Buffalo, New York organized by the NCAAT and the Wake County Black Student Union. Speeches were given, candles were lit, and condolences were given.

For me, it was a beautiful juxtaposition between diversity being celebrated and diversity literally being shot down. It showcases what our country can be and what it has been lately.

On Saturday afternoon, we attended the AAPI event at the Raleigh Little Theatre outdoor amphitheater. This event focused on the political aspect of AAPI by having AAPI elected officials speak about the significance of this month and what is being done to protect AAPI lives. Before speeches, a colorful, traditional Chinese dance was done.

Virtual Voyage: Boone and Blowing Rock

By Leeya

This spring break, my family and I traveled to the North Carolina mountains. The 3 hour car ride felt long enough to feel like we were traveling but short enough to cause any family conflict from being cooped up in the car too long. 

We stayed in a beautiful mountain home in the community of Hound Ears which was surrounded by waterfalls, large boulders, and a slight view of the mountains. It was private enough to feel like we were in the mountains but close enough to downtown Boone. 

We ate at several good restaurants like Lost Providence Brewing Co. Lost Providence was one of my favorites because they had an open kitchen where you could see the pizza being put into a brick oven and the pizza was just spectacular. In fact, they make their sausage from scratch and the pizza combinations are innovative but perfect. We also went on a hike by the Cone Manor which offered a breathtaking view of the mountains.

Unfortunately, since we went in early spring, most things were closed including the Cone Manor House, Hickory Ridge History Museum, and the outdoor play Horn In The West. However, we still had fun by driving the quick 15 minutes to Blowing Rock.

We found a restaurant called Speckled Trout, my favorite restaurant on the trip. The atmosphere was relaxed with great outdoor and indoor seating and the food did not fall short. The cornmeal hoecakes were fluffy with a sweet buttery flavor from the sorghum. The wagyu burger with goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon jam, and garlic aioli was like a sloppy joe full of flavor.

We liked Blowing Rock so much that my mom went there the next day. We had refreshing blackberry lemonade at Blue Deer on Main and traveled to sweet and spicy heaven at Sunset Tee’s & Hatterry (a hot sauce and candy shop). While we were walking, a building called Blowing Rock Art & Museum caught our eye. As you can probably guess from the title, this cute museum told the history of Blowing Rock and I learned so much.

The Cherokee and Catawba Indian tribes originally inhabited this area, creating the Blowing Rock legend. This legend says that two lovers, one from each tribe, were walking near the blowing rock when the sky urged one of the lovers that he must return to his tribal duty. His lover wanted him to stay with her. The choice between duty and love was too much for the lover and caused him to leap from the edge into the rocks below. The maiden was heartbroken and prayed for her lover to be brought back for her. Her prayers were answered and the winds of the river blew her lover back into her arms. Thus, this town was named “Blowing Rock.”

After the eighteenth century, the Scottish and Irish began to immigrate to this area. Other colonists and farmers also migrated, bringing slaves with them. They all came to work in the lumber industry fueling the industrial revolution. In 1845, a man by the name of James Harper built the first summer home in Blowing Rock. He also petitioned the Senate to build Blowing Rock’s first toll road. He realized the potential of Blowing Rock as a resort community. After all, Blowing Rock offered mountain air, stunning mountain views, and so much nature. Eventually, people were traveling from all over the world to ​​visit Blowing Rock. For example, Camp Catawba was founded for Jewish Refugees from New York to visit the South. As someone described Blowing Rock, “… it offered an escape from industrial life. These new people brought different cultures, religions, and a new perspective on life.”

We ended out the day with lunch from Storie Street Grille, where the apples were crisp and the figs were homegrown.

Overall, while the size of these towns might be small, the community and character is not.

App State

by Adalia

Appalachian State University, which is located in Boone, has one of the largest teaching programs in North Carolina, graduating as many as 500 teachers every year! The college, originally called Watauga Academy, has been around since 1899. It has evolved into the Reich College of Education. Because so many teachers graduate from App State, it is estimated that in every county in North Carolina there is at least one App State graduate teacher!

But why did we mention this in our Virtual Voyages?

Well, this is a thank you to teachers everywhere because teachers are true leaders. They lead us from childhood to adulthood. They teach us the important facts that maybe we’ll forget, but that will help a good number of us later in life. And most importantly, they teach us critical life skills—we spend close to 20,000 hours of our life with them, not including college and university!