Rotary Global Scholar David Mills
Rotary Global Scholar David Mills in a well-received address to the Club Monday 11 March advised that, having been sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sherwood, District 6150, he is in Belfast studying at Queens for a one year Masters in Conflict Transformation and thanking the Club for hosting him recognises what a great opportunity it is. He has recently had his dissertation looking at how criminalisation of migrants impact communities agreed and he wants to take this work back to the USA and work with NGOs to bridge divides developing in the migrant community.
He reflected that he comes from Arkansas (stressing its French influence means it is pronounced Arkansaw!) a state in the southern region of the USA home to 3m people bounded on the west by the Ouachita Mountains and the east by the Mississippi alluvial plain and highlighted its many features and interesting facts. Its 5 regions encompass mountains, forests, and many lakes and streams – in fact there are no less than 7 National parks, over 50 State Parks and 2.9 million square acres of National Forests! David grew up in the Ouachita Mountains area and highlighted that it used to be like the Rockies but having eroded is now more like hills.
It in 1836 Arkansas was the 25th state to enter the Union (its sister State Kansas joining in 1861 - the 34th state) and its flag, adopted in 1913, is very symbolic – a diamond shape on a red background signifies it was the only diamond-producing state in the USA; the 25 white stars around the diamond represent it was the 25th state to join the Union; the lone star in the centre represents that Arkansas was a member of the Confederate States during the Civil War and the other three stars represent Spain, France and the United States, countries which ruled Arkansas before it became a state.
The capital is Little Rock and, with a population of around 200,000, is 1/3rd the size of Belfast, he also pointed out many interesting facts about the state – a square dance is the state dance; the shotgun has recently been introduced as the official state gun because the state is known for duck hunting; Hot Springs National Park was in 1832 the first land to be preserved for future recreation. Hot Springs city ,where President Bill Clinton grew up; was a winter base for baseball training, had the largest illegal gambling operation in 1961 being neutral territory for gangsters from Chicago and New York, Al Capone maintained a suite in the Arlington Hotel and its St Patrick’s Day Parade along its longest street at 98ft is the shortest parade in the US!
He concluded that in the city “Hot Springy Dingy” is his family run store selling pottery, costumes and jewellery made by his parents and that as a graduate of Arkansas University, which actually has a live wild boar as its mascot, he has his name written in stone in the sidewalk and, answering questions, he highlighted that the French influence can be seen in its traditions and architecture.