Mississippi

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by Susie Mott ’18

I emerged from the girls’ dorm at 8:00 this morning to a finished 1,000-piece puzzle. I admire the determination it took to do this in one night.

Today, Ben had us installing hurricane clips and assembling the wooden foundation for a shed on South Edwards Ave. The hurricane clip crew worked along the perimeter inside, thoroughly nailing metal to beams and walls such that the roof ought to remain on this house in high winds. The rest of us filed outside, where we moved a pile of wood scrap across the yard – uncovering a newt, and a whole bunch of roly-polies! When starting the shed, Ben made sure each of us got a turn with the hammer, offering mini motivational speeches to anyone who became unsure or frustrated with the task, ensuring that we finished each nail off well.

Two other men showed up to help at this site; Bill and Mark, wielding a power saw. Mark addressed us collectively as “teens.” “Hey, teens!” “Teens! Come help with this!” I spent much of the morning standing by the scaffolding as a safety measure (“If we fall, that’s our mistake. If you don’t catch us, that’s your mistake, and there will be lawsuits! Lawyers everywhere!”), and found out that they’re history teachers. They offered to let me have a go with the saw, but asked Valerie first, and she vetoed this on account of my safety.

We had the afternoon off work, so by popular demand Valerie and Emma drove us to have a look at Ole Miss. I conked out in the van, as did most of my peers, but I was aware enough to notice the shift out the window from cotton fields, patched-up houses, metal fences, mallards swimming around the trunks of trees in opaque flood water, to neatly manicured lawns and huge houses enclosed by walls. I noticed benches in town designed such that homeless people won’t sleep on them.

Ole Miss is big. Just, so huge. We left Valerie and Emma at a Starbucks and trotted off to explore Oxford, Mississippi. This involved Insomnia Cookies, a book store, a bright red British telephone booth, and the most interesting-looking shop on the square: End of All Music, a record shop accessible by a staircase in an alley. We also noted a couple of Confederate memorial statues. We piled back into the vans as bells rang “For the Beauty of the Earth” across the university.

We visited Ground Zero Blues Club for dinner and music. Morgan Freeman was there. He high-fived me and shook my hand. I swear this actually happened and I’m not just redoing Terry Culleton’s surrealism assignment.

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Filed under Service, Student Work, Students

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