About the Participants
We would like to thank everyone who contributed to our project for all the help and information they provided us with. This includes everyone who gave of their time to be interviewed or to provide us with contacts and other resources. We would especially like to thank Sheri Bohannon, Luis Lovelace, Karen Sheffield, Stuart Schott, and Tom and Jean Whittington. Without the help of these people, this project would not have been possible.
The Rural Diversity class consisted of eighteen students and one professor. Below are brief biographies of each member of the class as well as a quote from each explaining what the project meant to them.
From left to right, back row: Ondine Geary, Michelle Demjean, Jenny Owens, and Darlene Feldman Front row: Jennifer DiLisi, Maggie Ahearn, Kate Hitchcock, Molly Birkhead, and Abby Kennedy Not pictured: Rebecca Anderson, Claire Beckett, Jessica Carney, Christina LeStage, Alice McCunn, Suzanne Nienaber, Patricia Owen, Howard Sacks, Anne Smetak, and Seth Swihart
Rebecca Anderson is a Senior Sociology major from Chicago. She is interested in: how residents of rural areas perceive themselves and their community.
Claire Beckett is a Junior from Oak Park, Illinois, who studied the Amish community. Claire was unreachable to obtain a quote.
Molly Birkhead is a Sophomore Psychology major. She is from
Bahama, North Carolina and studied the Amish community.
I was interested in expanding my knowledge of the community I live in. We are so isolated at Kenyon. We have no concept of what goes on around us because we are so involved in our work. When I saw the opportunity to integrate the work I do here with developing a greater understanding of Knox County, it seemed like the perfect solution. The Amish were a particularly different group because they are as isolated as we are. Being able to talk to them and see how they live and work from their point of view was like opening another world for me. I never could have imagined that people could be living three miles away and carrying on such a radically different lifestyle to my own. This experience was one of the most eye-opening and rewarding I have ever been through.
Jessica Carney is a Junior Biochemistry major and a Sociology minor from Chicago. She studied the Native American community.
I was interested in doing fieldwork to learn more about the Knox County community in which I have lived for over two years now. I also have thought about living in a small community at some point and wanted to see what the community dynamics are like.
Michelle Demjen is a Senior Sociology and French Area Studies double major. She is from Wellesley, Massachusetts and studied the Jewish community.
I found this class to be rewarding in that it forced me into the surrounding community. In our four years at Kenyon, too little time is spent getting to know people who live in this county, even in this town. This class is one way in which to bridge the gap between Kenyon College and the people of Knox County.
Jennifer DiLisi is a Junior Sociology major. She is from Highland Heights, Ohio and studied both the Irish and the Belgium communities.
I had heard many good things about Professor Sacks and I was very interested in taking one of his courses. I was also interested in taking a non-theoretical type of course in which I could actually apply the methodology learned and lectured about in class. I am grateful to have been a participant in the "Living Together" project because I now have a greater understanding of the Knox County community and its diverse residents.
Darleen Feldman is a Senior Sociology major from Wilmette, Illinois. She studied both the Latino community and the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I really enjoyed the out-of-classroom experience. I think I worked harder for this class than any other last semester, and probably learned more, too. It was great getting to know the people I worked with and exciting to be part of new research on RURAL diversity.
Ondine Geary is a Senior Sociology major. She is from Memphis, Tennessee and studied women on public assistance. The course gave me a chance to learn about the issue [women on public assistance] beyond statistics. I have a greater appreciation for the complexity of the issue, and a greater sense of the reality of the poverty.
Kate Hitchcock is a Junior who has created a Synoptic major
which is a combination of Psychology and Sociology in which she is exploring education as an equalizer in the Alternative
Center in Mount Vernon. She is from Lawrenceville, New Jersey and studied the Sexual Orientation group.
Initially I took this course because I was interested in the manner in which the research was to be done. I liked the idea of getting out of the classroom and talking with people about different aspects of their lives. As the course progressed, I began to realize the importance of what people had to say and the need to share these perspectives with others in the community. I've actually gotten to know several of the people I've interviewed outside the context of the project and now feel more a part of the community.
Abby Kennedy is a Senior who has created her own Synoptic major which combines Sociology, History, and English, she calls it "South African Culture Through Fiction." She is from Marion, Massachusetts and studied the Latino community and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I joined the course by accident, really; I was shopping for classes and trailed along to the class with a friend. Five minutes into the class, I was hooked. The idea of spending a semester honing my fieldwork skills was appealing, as was the opportunity to get to know the county beyond Kenyon. The project surpassed my expectations. I gained some valuable connections, and more importantly, friendships, with individuals in the communities I studied. It put many things--besides "rurality" and "diversity"--into perspective for me.
Christina LeStage is a Senior Sociology major from Eagle Bridge, New York. She studied the Jewish Community.
The project, if it did nothing else, placed Kenyon in a larger context for me and I no longer feel so isolated from the Knox County community. I have a much more solid sense of the different people who live here than when I started, and I found out that what appeared on the surface to be a homogeneous community was not so at all. Rather, it is the nature of rural life, one of the aspects that truly distinguishes it from urban life, to focus on similarities between the community members rather than differences. Diversity is there, but it must be sought out.
Alice McCunn is a Senior Psychology major. She is from Medina, Ohio and studied the Irish community.
It was a great opportunity to learn more about the people living in Knox County, to become involved in their lives, and to raise awareness about the diversity of the people living here.
Suzanne Nienaber is a Junior from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a Sociology major who studied the Sexual Orientation group.
The part of the project that was most fascinating to me was meeting people who live alternative lifestyles in an environment that is relatively unaccepting of their sexuality. Almost everyone we interviewed expressed a desire to establish a stronger gay community. It seems that the resources for a strong support system are available (particularly at Moundbuilders)-- the challenge will be finding ways to get that information out to all gays and lesbians residing in Knox County.
Patricia Owen is a Senior from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. She is a Psychology major who studied the Amish Community.
I was most interested in the class because I thought it would give me a unique experience of learning both in and out of the classroom. I wanted a class that took me beyond just normal desks and chairs and the routine setting.
Jenny Owens is a Senior from Memphis, Tennessee. She is a Sociology major who studied women on public assistance.
The class was an incredible eye-opener for me. I wanted to learn more about the community that has surrounded me for four years and learn I did. I was given the chance to interact with people, and hear their opinions, and listen to their stories, and I hope at some point I was able to give them back something as well.
Howard Sacks is a Sociology Professor at Kenyon College.
We harbor erroneous images of rural communities as homogeneous, when they are, in fact, comprised of the diverse experiences of many groups. Yet when we consider diversity--particularly in relation to social problems--we imagine the urban experience. Exploring rural diversity in a real community thus broadens our vision of both rural life and diversity in America.
Anne Smetak is a Junior who is majoring in Political Science
with a minor in Sociology. She is from Edina, Minnesota and studied the Black community.
I truly enjoyed the class as it allowed Kenyon students, who are typically so isolated from the community, to interact and become a part of sections of the Knox County community of which we were previously unaware.
Seth Swihart is a Junior Sociology major from Fort Wayne,
Indiana. He studied the Native American community and was the only male involved in the project with the exception
of Professor Howard Sacks.
I wanted to take this class because I wanted to do some hands-on sociology work. Applying what I had learned in the classroom to real life situations was also an aim I had for this class. I must say that I got out of this class what I wanted and more. I t was great to be able to talk with people and get their individual stories on how it is to be Native American in Knox County. Overall, it was interesting to get into the community that we are so close to, but know too little about.
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