#RFIFellows In Action: Wahoo Final Summary

Celebrating the end of the “Visit531Nebraska” tour as they returned to their hometown, Wahoo!

It’s hard to believe our summer in Wahoo is coming to an end, but we are more than grateful for the wonderful experiences and learning opportunities we had this summer. Although our projects are wrapping up, we will carry many things from this summer with us far into the future.

“This summer showed us how important it is to see the possibilities. We all know how quickly our “normal” can change. Emerging on the other side of those changes will be easier if we better understand ourselves and where we want to be. Oscaline, Amanda, and Savannah moved many projects forward, but also helped us see our community differently and this will help us long after they are gone.”

Theresa Klein, Community Innovation Fellow

Savannah: This summer we came in with the idea that we’d spend our time helping revive businesses and getting projects started, but what we quickly learned was that there was already plenty happening in Wahoo. Almost every day, we have had the opportunity to meet with someone new to learn another perspective or another story about what makes Wahoo a thriving rural community that is focused on embracing their roots and has their eyes set on the future.

Our ideas and our perspectives were positively embraced from day one, and we felt as if every meeting we had, we learned something new and walked away with another valuable connection. It will be difficult to move away from a town like Wahoo, but the connections I’ve made here will undoubtedly carry with me through the remainder of my college experience. 

Oscaline: As the summer wraps up, I reflect on the first days when I moved to the community – the warm welcome I received, the sweetness of people whom I met, the excitement I had to get started, and the lessons I learned along the way. Now after a wonderful opportunity to work on different projects including a community guide, designing brochures and the H.O.P.E. campaign, I have learned many lessons that I will take with me on my next journey. 

Working with people who are different from me in various aspects made me realize that diversity goes deeper than what is seen on the outside. As a woman of color who is living in a time of social injustice, it made me realize how Wahoo is an inclusive community. Looking back I would say that this was such a stretching, yet rewarding experience in many ways. I am grateful for all this growth.

“With all the conversations happening in our country today about diversity and inclusion of everyone, we have had a lot of honest and open conversations with our fellows. Through this, I have learned so much about how to think beyond my little world here in Wahoo.”

Melissa Harrell, Community Innovation Fellow

Amanda: Through this experience, my eyes were opened as to what it takes to operate a rural community and truly help businesses and residents thrive. The amount of drive and dedication in the Wahoo community to make this happen is inspiring. 

We were welcomed with open arms and given the creative freedom this summer to work on projects that were challenging, yet aligned with our strengths and interests. We did our best to spark innovation, creativity, and a multitude of new ideas. 

Now it’s time for Wahoo to continue to develop a unified approach as to the direction they want to go and how they will get there. The relationships I built and the learning I experienced will outlast the summer weeks that flew by so quickly. I will always cherish my summer with RFI and the Wahoo community who supported us and did whatever it took to help us have the best summer possible.