Harvard Students Conclude State Tour in Wheeling
WHEELING – Students from Harvard University spent the weekend visiting towns across West Virginia, concluding their tour by meeting with local representatives and community leaders in Wheeling.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said the group of 27 students had been visiting several places in the state since Friday, meeting with locals to get a better perspective about the people of West Virginia and their struggles and concerns. In Wheeling, the students concluded their trip at Orrick’s law office, meeting with community representatives including Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Co. President Lisa Allen.
Student Pete Stein described his time in the state as “tiring,” but said he loved the visit.
“What’s going on here in terms of economic development is very promising,” Stein said. “Studying public policy at Harvard, it’s easy to have a 30,000-foot view with large trends and theories of change.”
“We went to Buckhannon this morning — a community that’s done so much for itself, with opportunities that have come entirely from the motivation and willpower of its citizens, that start as grassroots (movements), starting from the bottom.”
“They meet Tuesdays at lunch, sit around the table, ‘How can we do this?'” Warner said of Buckhannon’s local government. “If they tried to do a mainstream program, it may fizzle out, but by starting from the bottom up, (it works).”
“Harvard is the number one research institution in the world, and right now they have a focus on rural America,” Warner said. “These students are interested in coming and seeing it here — there are two students from here, but the rest have never been, and so they’re coming to see it for a change in perspective.”
Warner said the group did a local discussion on “Maps and Chaps,” in which the students learned of the places and geography that defined the state’s development, and the people who led its development and growth.
“We have two panhandles in this weird-shaped state,” Warner said. “It had military perspectives, the whole route past the Alleghenies, the control of the Mississippi valley, back from Revolutionary War times up to today. So many battles played out over our turf.”
Following the discussion at Orrick, the students left for Pittsburgh to fly back home.