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True Beauty

By John Pieper

Last year as summer approached and my final semester of college was winding down I was filled with anxiety about my future. This changed when I heard there was an open spot on UDSAP (University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program),

a summer program open to students of all ages and backgrounds. UDSAP sounded like the perfect opportunity to step away from the pressures of being a graduating senior and get one last experience of a lifetime from college. Submitting my application was one of the best decisions of my life.

When summer arrived, it was time for me to head to Salyersville Kentucky with a group of strangers, my UDSAP community. Upon arriving in Salyersville, the misty hills, and the quaint UDSAP house tucked away in in a valley gave me a sense of the beauty of Appalachia. After the first weeks in Kentucky when the strangers I came with started to become friends, I realized the true beauty of Salyersville was in the people who lived there. I never thought that people who seem to have so little could ever give me so much. Waking up early in the morning to see joy on children’s faces as they play at day camp. Forming connections with the seemingly rugged yet loving teens at teen scene. Establishing some of the best friendships I’ve ever had with people in my community. These experiences and so much more will forever be engrained in my heart.

John Pieper
UDSAP '18