December 29, 2010 11:31:00 AM
My journey home has led me to many experiences I never imagined when I graduated from Columbus High school 10 years ago. I had no clue what I would study at Millsaps College. (Actually, I only knew two things: (1) they would give me the chance to play college basketball and (2) Thomas Adams and Joshua Hunt, childhood friends, went there). I didn''t know I would discover my passion for history after taking "American history post-Civil War" with Dr. Robert McElvaine, or that professor Anne C. MacMaster would convince me to double major in English because she felt I had potential as a writer.
When I left Columbus, I didn''t know I would live and teach in Guyana, South America, for a year. I never imagined I would witness poverty at such depths, while I taught grammar and syntax to school children. Nor did I expect I would live in a village where rain was the main source of water, and electricity was a commodity for a lucky few.
The day I left Mississippi, I didn''t know I would go to law school at the University of Wisconsin. During this time, I never dreamed I would intern with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania. Conversely, in my worst nightmares I never envisioned I would see children without limbs beg for food, or hear teenagers admit to mass murder. I didn''t know I would work for the United States Justice Department and help service members access their proper employment benefits upon return from Iraq.
I didn''t know any of these things, but inside of me, deep down, I always knew I would return to Columbus, Mississippi. Obviously, my father, Wilbur Colom, telling everyone he was only keeping his law practice open in preparation for my return, may have had something to do with my certainty.
Yet, it was more than that. It''s because of the fond memories I have growing up in Columbus: from my twin brother and I hitting back-to-back home runs at Southside park, to playing violin very poorly at MUW (my mom forced me to play). It was the memories of Alma Turner and all the great teachers at Demonstration School. It was the summers spent learning basketball at the YMCA from Coach Doran Johnson, and, later, the many locker room celebrations with my teammates and Coach Smith as we won the most games in Columbus High history. It was the recollections of pool parties with Adam Gardner (Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Gardner.) and the performances put on by the Columbus Arts Council, where all the middle-school students would have an afternoon of theater.
Columbus, like many small cities in the South, is working to find an economic identity in a globalized economy, while also facing endemic problems in our communities. At the same time, our city has the potential to be a leader in the 21st century. We have the potential to be great.
That''s because Columbus has something unique; something no other place has: Us. And that''s what I want to write about: the stories, people, problems and inspirations. Some will be familiar, some not. With this column, I hope every week to help introduce Columbus to itself.
Scott Colom is a local attorney.
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