The Forces Behind Mountaintop Removal Mining

West Virginia. What comes to mind when thinking of this state? Coal, Confederate sympathizers, Trump supporters? Fair. West Virginia’s stereotypes make it, for many,  a place to avoid. In fact, before traveling there for my Alternative Spring Break trip, these stereotypes led me to form my own negative thoughts about the state. In my initial assessment of West Virginia, I failed to take a step back and think: why can’t this state break out of its negative stereotypes? After volunteering with the non-profit organization Coal River Mountain Watch, I began to realize how underlying forces in West Virginia ensure the state’s commitment to coal.

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Abroad in Virginia: Reflection On A Year

I vividly remember walking past the History Department’s offices on the second floor of Kirner-Johnson in late January of last year. It was cold out — the kind of cold particular to upstate New York—and I felt trapped. Hamilton was already beginning to feel small. I saw, tacked on the bulletin board across from Professor Kelly’s office, a poster emblazoned with the College of William & Mary’s distinctive logo. Intrigued, I walked over to read it.

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