Smiling faces, dedicated citizens, the feeling that everyone is connected in some manner: there is something undoubtedly beautiful about small town life. Whether we pop into the local YMCA for a work-out or enjoy dinner together at a restaurant on Front Street, it seems that everyone we meet welcomes us to the community, which I have thoroughly appreciated. Upon our first night in Georgetown, as we enjoyed delicious food and introduced ourselves to those with whom we will be working this summer, we were kindly informed of and invited to Georgetown’s Backhoe Rodeo, an event held annually in honor of National Public Works Week. The members of the BN Class of 2018 were incredibly excited to already begin feeling involved in the community, and after we made a chore chart and calendar for our house, we wrote the Backhoe Rodeo on the calendar, marking it as our first community event. After individuals were recognized for their commendable involvement with Georgetown County Public Works, we enjoyed some tasty barbeque, before watching the backhoe competition itself.
Different backhoe operators from Georgetown County, Berkeley County, Charleston County, and the City of Charleston competed against one another, hoping to win first or second place in the regional competition so that they could advance to the statewide competition. The deftness with which these operators competed was incredible to watch; in the timed competition, backhoe operators lifted pipe pieces from one tic-tac-toe-style board to another, quickly yet carefully moving pieces from a square in one position on the first board to the same position on the second board.
Making sure everything is in order before the competition portion of the Backhoe Rodeo began!
Prizes for the top three competitors!
The Backhoe Rodeo took place at the Georgetown County Landfill, and this geographic location granted us with an unexpected but fascinating opportunity. James Coley, an environmentalist at the event, told us that after we watched a bit of the competition, he could give us a tour of the landfill, so we piled into his van and began the tour. Personally, I have never given much thought to the organization of a landfill; in regards to waste products, I, of course, think about recyclables in comparison to non-recyclable waste, but I neglect to reflect on just how public works officials deal with the waste produced by a community. Hearing how Georgetown County deals with waste, from wood waste to e-waste, was truly eye-opening. None of the BN Scholars knew such a tour would be offered, but we all agreed afterwards that we were thankful for the chance to learn about something new, due to the kindness of Georgetown community members (and see the highest point in the county)!
Bales of waste from our tour of the Georgetown County Landfill
Watching the manner in which the Georgetown County community members support one another has led me to reflect on a quote by one of my favorite playwrights, George Bernard Shaw. Shaw expressed, “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live,” espousing the importance of thoroughly immersing oneself in the surrounding community. Of Duke, I often tell people I love the size because you can find small communities within the larger school; the BN family, for example, is a treasured community at which I feel at home, feeling like I belong. Georgetown County, with a population of about 10,000, is small in itself. However, I am eager to see the manner in which each of us discovers various smaller niche communities within the county, gaining a better understanding of the manner in which the population creates the county’s rich, welcoming community atmosphere.