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Joseph McBride 

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Joseph McBride Alma Student, Arkansas School for the Blind When I was originally asked to write an article about my favorite place in Arkansas, I had intended to use the Fort Smith library as my subject. However, with the advent of Arkansas Governor’s school, my sentiments altered dramatically. Before arriving, admittedly, I was apprehensive. Not only at the prospect of residing for six weeks with 399 total strangers — daunting enough — but also uncertain of exactly what to expect from the curriculum. I had heard many things, most of them bad. “Don’t go there. You’ll be brainwashed!” “That’s the gay school. I wouldn’t let my kids go!” And so on and so forth. However, sprinkled amidst these negative nay-sayings were those wonderful words of encouragement. “Good luck; it’ll be a great experience.” “I’m sure it’ll help you expand your mind.” Upon arrival I discovered that all of my previous misgivings were utterly unfounded. Not only was I exposed to a wide variety of opinions, enriched with culture, and met many a friend; I also saw nothing to support the aforementioned allegations concerning indoctrination, brainwashing, or any sort of political agenda. Instead I found an environment in which highly intelligent and open-minded students from all over the state could flourish as they discussed, debated, and were exposed to a variety of ideas on a assortment of topics, ranging from the scientific to the political. In the five weeks that I was there, we went to an opera and a Shakespearean play, heard from the editor of the Democrat-Gazette, discussed the components of Marxism, heard music performed by an African musician, heard music performed by the AGS choir and band and watched “The Truman Show” and “Koyaanisqatsi.” It is precisely for these reasons that AGS is my favorite place in Arkansas — not only because it is a place for teens to develop new ideas, but because it is the opposite of the many negative ideas floating around about it. I hope that this helps to clear up some of those misconceptions.
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