By Saoirse Scott (LFNC Fellow, Edenton)
November 5, 2019
The last four months have felt pretty surreal. It’s wild that at the end of May I had no idea what my future held and now here I am, a month and a half into my fellowship. It’s been a little disconcerting watching my friends start their fall semester classes and move back to Chapel Hill, and it’s made me miss it, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. I’ve been able to put more energy into my work because I’m actually able to put time into myself. It’s kind of amazing how that works.
It’s definitely been a big change. Moving to a town where the entire population could be housed in just a few UNC dorms wasn’t something that I think I could have fully prepared for. For a long time, it’s not what I wanted either. Moving to a small town like the one I grew up in seemed like it would be a step backwards.
I’m not surprised that I felt that way; it’s the leading narrative that society engrains in its young folks—to move away from their small towns and make a better life for themselves than their parents had. What that narrative tends to leave out is that by choosing to remain in or move to a small town, you can make a better life for yourself and your community. How could you not better yourself, gain valuable experience and grow as a person when you’re working in a place that needs you?
Edenton has welcomed me with open arms. In larger metropolitan areas, it’s easy to go about your daily life and not have any real interactions with people and that gets lonely. You can feel isolated in a sea of people. In Edenton, I see people I know everywhere I go. More than that though, I see people who know me, who want to get to know me better and who want to share their community and home with me. The pride and love that people here have for Edenton is infectious; I can’t help but fall in love with this town and the people who live here.
But this feeling of community impacts more than just my personal experience living here. Sure, having the mayor wave to me from his porch while I’m going on a run, reading by the pier or diligently going to the weekly farmers market makes me feel at home, but it also makes me accountable. Being connected to this community makes the work I do feel that much more important. Every project I complete directly impacts the people I see every day, and I’m accountable to them. My community development and rehabilitation projects will make a difference here. My ADA compliance project will make a difference here. And I’ll be able to see those differences. It’s extremely motivating and invigorating and I’m thankful that I get to be a part of it.