Some old, some new

Thisanjali Gangoda

Kent, Ohio is a town like no other. At first glance it may seem to be a rather typical mid-American college town with its downtown boutiques, bar hubbub, fraternity scene and football games.

But having lived in Kent for all my life, I can attest to the fact that it’s more culturally diverse than many campus students seem to think or notice. Though the university does stress in its freshman orientation classes and LER requirements the importance of understanding diversity, it is certainly a matter that can’t be settled by simply taking a class or two and getting a passing grade.

With all the community events and thriving local businesses that are part of this town, we as college students shouldn’t limit ourselves to hanging out in the student center or at the nearest frat party. As thrilling as it may be, weekend upon weekend of drinking 40s and bumming cigarettes, there is a whole world of adventures to be explored in Kent.

Weekends are always busy with town festivals, movie showings, poetry readings, open mic nights, the farmers market and concerts. Downtown is teeming with long-standing family businesses that are creating innovative efforts to expand their businesses.

The area has recently been brightened with the renovation of buildings that will house new restaurants, clothing shops, bars and even a toy store. This is all in addition to the already brilliant record shops, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shop, bookstores, music venues, community theater, natural food store, and legendary bars that occupy downtown Kent. I need not name them all as they are yours to be found. Just hop on a bus, ride your bike or take a stroll with some friends down Main Street to discover something that really inspires you.

It’s not only the businesses in this town that are neat, it’s also the people. The university and the city of Kent have had, at times, a tumultuous relationship as generations have changed and history hasn’t been forgotten. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that Kent State students and Kent community members can’t forge friendships and understanding of each other’s lives.

In recent years there has been quite a bit of disconnect between college life and town life, as communication at both ends has dwindled. Because the city of Kent has been working toward renewing basic structures, the people of Kent should start working toward making students community members, and vice versa. There is no need for divide in this town because at the very core of the Kent community is the willingness to be open-minded and welcoming to all those who come to our city.

As students, it’s never too late to become more active and curious about the town we live in. And as community members, it’s never too late to reevaluate our role in the lives of the students. As both a community member of Kent and student at Kent State, I feel I am always learning something new about where I am from and what I can do to contribute. The possibility of change always stands and tomorrow is a great day to get out and start adventuring.

Thisanjali Gangoda is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].