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Starting off my fellowship in a new place with no connections and almost no foreknowledge of what I was about to encounter was daunting. Yet as fellows, we’re expected to not only come into these situations, but work to build the capacity that our host sites have called us to do. Ashe County was no different in that regard, and I hit the ground running with meetings, ribbon cuttings, long-term planning and so much more, just within my first week. Common sense would dictate that some kind of adjustment period would be needed so that a fellow could do all of this while feeling comfortable in their new surroundings. What I found was that seeking out opportunities to learn about your new community, its culture, people, and industries, comes easier than you would think. Signing up with our citizens’ academy, Leadership Ashe, meeting with stakeholders and engaging with our citizens are all ways Ashe County opened up to me. A great deal of this was thanks to my host site itself, with my supervisors and coworkers helping point towards new resources and individuals that could teach me even just a little bit more about the County. It was not long before the High Country did not seem so foreign any more, and though I am still adjusting in many ways (winter is around the bend after all), getting out into the community however I can has been the best remedy.

11/11/21