Remember what you represent

To the editor:

How often do you converse with a stranger who asks you, “Where are you from?” For me, I’d say quite often.

I’ve been thinking about a normal (almost rehearsed) conversation I would experience no matter what city I was in, no matter how far I was from my hometown. It would go something like this: “Where are you from?” I would casually reply, “Steubenville, it’s a small town in Ohio.” The stranger would then go on about their business or would say the following: “Ahhh, the Big Red.” I would instantly cringe at the incorrect addition of “the” before Big Red, but I would immediately stick my chest out with pride and reply, “Yes, Big Red.”

This would lead to a conversation about my high school experience, football and surprisingly often, a chat about a fire-breathing horse in our stadium. I always would feel good about myself after the conversation, knowing that I was a representation of “the Big Red” – proud of my alma mater, proud of my city.

Recent exposure to Steubenville has increased in a very negative light, and I realized my normal hometown conversation will no longer play out as it did before. I knew I had a decision to make – opt out of saying where I was from and substitute “Pittsburgh” to keep it light and easy, or subject myself to a new “Steubenville” conversation that won’t likely be as fun.

For me, it wasn’t hard to decide. I have a loyalty to my hometown that I cannot deny. It made me who I am, and I am proud of the person I have become. I know I am not alone in this. Think about where you are from. Think about your experiences. Think about who you are and who you want to be. Remember that wherever you go and whatever you do, you are a representation of your parents, your family, your high school and even your hometown. The world needs to see that we are not a town full of corrupt minds. We are smart, educated and disciplined people and are not defined by the disturbing event that has been the topic of news all over the country.

Our actions are far superior to our words. Remember who and what you represent. Wherever life takes you, carry yourself with dignity and respect – and when someone asks you where you are from … you tell them.

Alysha L. Watson