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by Jacob Lane · April 16, 2014


“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” -Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez



West Liberty, a cornerstone of culture. This last week I was given the opportunity to attend various events in town that seemed to touch every edge of the spectrum of humanity. While other newspapers search out whatever they can, West Liberty seems to give The Index more than it can handle on a weekly basis. Last week was no exception.

It began Thursday night when Sones de México performed for the community in the high school auditorium. I walked into the event closed minded and ready to go home, but walked out with a new appreciation for Mexican music. It's never been a genre I've cared for; I'm more of a trippy hip-hop aficionado with a love for the fringe. However, the performers were masterful in such a way to captivate my attention and peak my curiosity. As they played several styles of music from several communities in Mexico I was in awe of their range. There were, literally, 15-20 instruments on stage that they cycled through.

I suppose I love a good live performance no matter what music is being played. However, Sones de México gave me an opportunity to expand my musical mind. After spending years in Tucson, a town with a high Hispanic population such as ours, I though my heart had officially been hardened against Mexican music. After that evening I'm willing to love again.

Then came Friday morning when I witnessed hundreds of kindergartners rush onto the football field for Easter eggs. It was the clash of wee little titans as they ran in circles to pick up little colored pieces of joy.

I was touched when they began helping each other as the initial rush of the moment wore off. One girl surpassed her 10 egg limit, so she grabbed her extras and put them into another girl's bag. Now that was a good dose of healthy competition, which I hope to see WLCSD foster in these children's lives in the years to come.

But it was Saturday morning that completely threw me out of my element. The Laos community in West Liberty and the surrounding towns held a "Tak Baht" ceremony in order to mark the beginning of their year. Walking into the community center, my eyes were assaulted by color. The women wore elaborate shawls and dresses while the men attempted to look just as lively. They hung money from trees and honored monks from a newly opened Buddhist temple in Des Moines.

Boy, was it busy.

When I initially heard about it I thought there'd be 10-15 people max. However, they managed to fill most of the room.

It's funny, when I think I've seen it all there's always something more to experience. The best part, most of it seems to happen in West Liberty. I never have to travel very far to be thrown out of my element. To be surrounded by such beautiful moments, to me that's the American Dream.

“It's enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment,” writes Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez in 100 Years of Solitude. The novel is jammed with 100 years worth of history, circling around to the beginning of time. This week I felt that way, experiencing history and culture older than I am which will go on to the end of time. So much has happened and spring has barely even begun. Even as I write this it's snowing outside the window. Go figure.

So, I've got my sword and shield, my pen and paper and my willingness to learn officially equipped. I just hope I find time to sleep this summer.

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