By Bethany Miller
Appalachian culture is often misunderstood and underrepresented. The coordinators of the annual conference in Zanesville believe it is necessary not just for our region, but also for our nation as a whole to be aware of Appalachian America. Therefore, Ohio University Zanesville Campus is hosting the 5th Annual Women of Appalachia: Their Heritage and Accomplishments conference, Oct. 23-25.
Though the title of this national conference celebrates the legacy and achievement of women, participation is open to all.
According to Zanesville Dean Jim Fonseca, many Appalachian issues cross gender lines. "Men need to learn what's going on in the region involving women's studies, too," he said.
Fonseca was involved in the founding of the conference five years ago. The conference is really a celebration of Appalachian culture in general, providing participants with "a sense of who they are and where they come from," Cindy Oliver said. Along with Jamie White, Oliver coordinated this year's conference.
"The conference was started to make women and the people more aware of the heritage of Appalachia," Oliver said.
Since its beginning, the conference has undergone many changes. Previously oriented to an academic audience, the conference now includes applied professionals such as nurses, social workers and health care providers that are also involved in Appalachian issues, Fonseca added.
The conference has also expanded in size with a growing number of attendees each year. Oliver said she estimates 150 participants but sets the limit at 200 to maintain close relationships among attendees.
"People have the opportunity to hang together," Oliver said. "It gets to be like a little family."
This year's conference will also include an art exhibition with a wide variety of mediums included, such as quilts, sculptures, paintings and photography. Featured guests are also a selected assortment including accomplished writers Joyce Dyer and Kiki Delancey, musicians Hank Arbaugh and David Morris, flatfoot dancer Christine Ballengee-Morris and Patricia Thomas-Wilson, who will perform a one-woman play.
Registrations for the conference are still being accepted, and some events are open to the public. For a complete schedule of events or for registration information, visit www.zanesville.ohiou.edu/ce/wac/default.asp.
Watch Outlook the week of Oct. 20 for profiles on featured guests.
Bethany Miller is a student writer for University Communications and Marketing.