Arkansans are known for their hospitality. But when Wisconsin-raised Brianne Connelly moved to Lake Village in 2007 with Teach for America, she had no idea just how deep that Southern hospitality ran. "Hospitality is being polite in Wisconsin. In Arkansas, hospitality is opening up houses and hearts to new people," she said.
Connelly was also impressed by Arkansas's breathtaking, diverse landscapes, especially the wide-open beauty of Lake Village. Lake Chicot - the nation's largest natural oxbow lake - is located there, and it's perfect for fishing, boating, swimming, canoeing and just relaxing.
"The sunsets over Lake Chicot are the prettiest I have ever seen," she said. "The Teach for America corps members refer to Lake Village as the 'Hamptons of the Delta' because of its beauty and resort-like feel."
Connelly is the director of the J. Austin White Cultural Center (JAWCC) in Eudora (only 15 miles south of Lake Village). JAWCC offers music, art, theater and other activities for children and youth in Southeast Arkansas; broadening them to grow into responsible, cultured adults who give back to their community. "I feel beyond blessed to have this position," she said.
In addition to planning fun and enriching classes, workshops and events for JAWCC, Connelly teaches a variety of classes in the community, including Zumba, karate, visual arts and ballroom dance.
And a few times a year, she hosts family from Wisconsin. "They love the sunshine, the weather, the beautiful sunsets, the slow pace and the extremely friendly people," Connelly said. "They would definitely say the people of Arkansas are the most hospitable they've come across."