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Author Wendy Welch to discuss book on adoption and the opioid crisis in Appalachia

Dr. Wendy WelchDr. Wendy Welch

DATE CHANGED DUE TO WEATHER --- This event has been rescheduled for Monday, March 26 from Wednesday, March 21.

On Monday, March 26, the WVU Tech Department of History, English, and Creative Arts will welcome notable writer Dr. Wendy Welch as she delivers the first Appalachian Writers’ Lecture. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in Carter Hall.

Welch will cover her recent book “Fall or Fly: The Strangely Hopeful Story of Foster Care and Adoption in Appalachia.” The nonfiction work discusses foster care and adoption against the backdrop of the opioid epidemic in Appalachia. The book uses what Welch refers to as “storytelling journalism,” relying on interviews the author conducted with more than 60 social workers, parents and children from the region who have been impacted by the system.

WVU Tech English professor Dr. Douglas Terry organized the event as a way to connect students and the community with active writers and thinkers in Appalachia.

“Encouraging our writers is necessary to the social health of our region. Through the work of writers like Dr. Wendy Welch, we engage in the issues that comprise 21st century life in Appalachia – its hardships, its beauty and its history,” he said. 

For Welch, the lecture presents an opportunity for attendees to learn more about an often overlooked group of Appalachian people who are an integral part of the fabric of the region.

“There has never been a more important time for people in Southern West Virginia to understand what is happening in foster care because of the opioid crisis. While it is not all doom and gloom, there are serious implications for everyone. Foster care worker, friend, neighbor, bystander: we are all in this together,” she said.

That sense of community and social awareness creates a unique lens through which to explore the environment of addiction and child welfare in Appalachia.

“Dr. Welch’s lecture provides a forum for addressing the opioid epidemic, the impact of which touches everyone in the region,” said Dr. Terry.

“Her lecture will equip students with a better understanding of how the epidemic affects people’s lives in Appalachia. Grasping the complexity of the opioid epidemic is vital for Tech’s students, as they are Appalachia’s future. Additionally, her lecture will demonstrate the centrality of writing and research in furthering knowledge on essential social issues,” he said.

Welch, who runs a bookstore alongside her husband Jack Beck, resides in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. She has written numerous books and is the Executive Director of the Graduate Medical Education Consortium in Southwest Virginia. She holds a master’s degree in education and a Ph.D. in ethnography. As the 2018 New River Gorge Winter Writer-in-Residence, she has spent the last three months living and writing in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

The event is free and open to the public. Attendees will enjoy light refreshments and have an opportunity to meet the author. The lecture is funded by the WVU Tech Convocations Committee.