Nothing makes me more irritated than when people sum up Southwest Virginia by talking about moonshine, Nascar, and Conservative rednecks. Does SWVA have those? Absolutely, and I am not ashamed of that. However, it is also so much more. Growing up in SWVA was a privilege that few in this world get to experience. Community is promoted, you know almost all your neighbors, and you most likely go to a very small school. Living in Sugar Grove all my life led me to appreciate all these things. It also led to criticism. First by those of Marion, who saw the Sugar Grovers as country imbeciles even though we are from the same area, and then when I came to UVA. I will never forget the girls in my philosophy discussion who laughed at me when I said I was from “SWVA” the first class. I’m sure my accent was a factor in this, but I am not ashamed nor will I ever will be of where I come from. It is not utopia- the meth problem, the poverty, more young men graduating and going to work in factories than going to college, but it is beautiful, and simple, and a part of who I am. Luke Bryan may have said it best (with a few changes), “Down where I was born was heaven on earth, where the New River washes that Southwest Virginia dirt, the sun sets slow and the stars shine bright, we raised tobacco, and corn, a little beans, and kids, you either lived on a farm or wished you did, and Jesus always walked close to our sides, where I grew up we rode in trucks.” It is, undoubtably, a part of my soul.