From Vicksburg, with Southern Love

From Vicksburg, with Southern Love
Laila Kasuri

VICKSBURG, Mississippi—When most international students hear I-20, they think of the document that grants them entry into the United States. For me, however, I-20 means Interstate 20, the highway along the Mississippi leading to Vicksburg. Yes, that same Vicksburg, which you may have read about in some version of United States history but is probably now buried somewhere in the back of your mind...

My first week in Vicksburg, I spent most of my mornings walking through the famous Vicksburg National Military Park. Not only is it ideally situated at the ledge overlooking the great Mississippi River, but it is also an excellent way to learn about the history of the South and the Civil War, especially if you know nothing (and I mean nothing) about it. In fact, Vicksburg was famous for the “Siege of Vicksburg,” during which the Union Army, led by Ulysses S. Grant, put the Confederates at Vicksburg to (as one might expect) siege. What I didn’t know was that this quaint town has an even deeper history and was part of the Natchez Native Americans' territory.

But probably the best thing that Vicksburg has to offer more than the history is the Southern hospitality. The people of Vicksburg are very, and I mean very, welcoming. They invite you to dinner, cook for you, smile and say hi for no apparent reason. On top of that, they like to get to know you.  For the average Harvard student, the pace of life may appear to be a little too slow, but for someone trying to do thesis research, it is the ideal place. Not to mention, people are pretty smart here, since Vicksburg has the highest concentration of per capita engineers in the entire nation!