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Opinion

Journey to the ‘middle of nowhere,’ Midwest

Hecker is a first-year magazines and writing double major and can be contacted at emily.hecker@drake.edu

Congratulations, fellow Drake students! You have all ventured to a place many Americans might consider foreign or might not even consider at all. That’s right, I’m talking about the Midwest. Though we are all proud residents of this gem of a region (I hope anyway), for many others, it tends to go unnoticed.

If you’ll permit me, I’d like to briefly reminisce for a moment. A little over a year ago, I announced my decision to attend Drake to my friends and family. One of my always supportive friends responded with these words of encouragement:

“What’s in Iowa? Who would want to go to school there?”

Needless to say, it took quite a bit of tongue biting on my part to move past that comment.

I’m going to take a wild guess here that a few of you have also received similar comments from friends, family or complete strangers maybe. Why is it that cornfields are the only things that come to people’s minds when a Midwestern state is mentioned, particularly Iowa? Do they honestly think those are the only things out here? Then again, I suppose I should appreciate the fact that these people are even thinking about the Midwest at all.

In many instances, the other regions largely ignore the Midwest. Most fashion magazines are a prime example of the ignorance related to our region. Whenever I glance at the pages of “Vogue,” “Elle” or even “Seventeen,” I find myself thinking about how ill-suited most of those garments are for Midwest living. We’re still wearing Ugg boots here, so I don’t think your average Midwesterner is going to go out and drop thousands of dollars on designer wear. Where’s the magazine that features entire ensembles we Drake students would and could afford to consider wearing? Fellow magazines majors, we could band together and make this happen.

Once you get past the lack of Midwestern representation in the fashion industry, there’s that pesky view that the Midwest cannot be a vacation destination. In the words of a former neighbor:

“Why are you going to South Dakota? What’s there?”

Yes, those were real questions. South Dakota natives, I would be happy to supply my neighbor’s address for your hate mail. Needless to say, my family’s trip to South Dakota was quite enjoyable. We got to see Mount Rushmore, the horse from “Dances With Wolves,” Custer State Park and The Flintstones Bedrock City Theme Park. Now, who can scoff at Bedrock City as a worthwhile destination?

When people move beyond the idea that the Midwest is boring, they may just discover that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. After all, we’ve got Cedar Point Amusement Park (home of the Millennium Force), House on the Rock, Mall of America and much more. Heck, even here at Drake, we’ve had a GOP presidential debate.

Next time someone gives you grief about living and learning in the Midwest, I challenge you to politely inform him or her that it’s so much better than they think. We shouldn’t just be children of the corn. We should be proud children of the corn.

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