What college students can learn from Iola



April 22, 2019 - 10:09 AM

When I first arrived in Iola as a freshman at Allen Community College, the town’s size didn’t shock me as it did many of my peers from out of state. My family has roots in Maple Hill, so I knew what to expect of rural towns. 

Yet no matter our experiences with rural America, all of us who are from elsewhere and now call Iola home have left something behind. We’ve got to start anew. And while some adjust to these changes, others don’t.

All of us students agreed to make the pilgrimage to Iola in search of an education. But what else do we learn while we are here, apart from a myriad of ways to spend one’s money at local restaurants and shops? Two years may seem insignificant to someone who’s spent decades growing up in southeast Kansas, but to 18-year-olds now on our own, it is a critical time to learn some of the life’s biggest lessons: disparities, commonalities, and empathy.

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