Speak Your Piece: Bringing It All Back to Bogalusa
A Fisk College grad comes back to rural Louisiana to begin, facing questions and an open sky.
"Let Us Begin"
(sunrise over Louisiana)
Photo: Mr. Greenjeans
I must admit it was not my initial plan to return home to Southeastern Louisiana after graduation from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. I had imagined my having to fly home for the holidays or my younger sisters coming to stay the summer with me “in the big city.” Or not having to purchase a vehicle because everything I needed would be within walking distance. I am not sure why I equated success with living in a large city.
Nevertheless, I ended up moving back to Bogalusa, Louisiana, from Nashville. I would say it was because I was not relentless in my search for employment during my matriculation at Fisk. Maybe that stems from my laid back Southern approach to life.
But I did get a job offer in my hometown, to work at Service Zone, Inc.. I got the call exactly one day after my graduation. This company handled technical support calls for Gateway computers, which was wonderful for me, being that my major was Computer Science. I was close to my field of study, I thought to myself. This disproved my claim that finding gainful employment in a rural area was impossible.
Then, since I was busy at work, I forgot about my promise never to return to rural America again. I fell in love again with being able to leave the house and car doors unlocked, driving and not seeing another car for miles. In college I thought I was living the life because stores stayed open past 5 pm. Baskin Robbins and Kinko’s (open 24 hours ““ Wow!) were the places to hang out and “people watch.” I had forgotten what it was like to look into the sky and see the stars and moon clearly with no interference.
To my surprise, once everyone learned that I had moved back home, I was bombarded with questions concerning my return. They would say, “Why did you move back here ““ there isn’t anything to do?” or “I thought you said you would never come back to the country.” I think what hurt the most would be when people said, “Oh you didn’t like the city did you?” or “You realized that living in the city was too expensive,” when in all actuality those thoughts never crossed my mind. I did not think that my degree would give me instant financial independence, where I could live on my own and take care of myself, or a first class ticket to “Anywhere Away from Rural America.” I knew I had to start somewhere.
What really helped me transition was a statement one of my family members made. She said, “People in rural areas need doctors, lawyers and computer scientists.” Those words will forever be embossed in my mind. I was reminded that I can make a difference wherever I am, that people need all types or services in every corner of the world.