Viewpoint: There are things to do in Waco, so go do them

Many of us come from hometowns filled with exciting nightlife, big cities or rolling hills. Some of us have even come from abroad—or states so different you feel like you might as well have been abroad.

We have made our long journeys from many different places, all with the common goal of arriving at Baylor — and Waco.

Unfortunately, the freshmen arrive at their dream school unaware that Waco is not quite as exciting as the pictures and travel brochures made it seem.

We plaster “Keep Waco Wacko” on our shirts, but I feel that the phrase has become more of a disclaimer to why we should not venture off campus than a praise of our quirky town.

We have developed a stigma of “us” and “them,” and nobody dares to embrace this not-so-small town.

As a California native, I am the first to admit that I miss my beach culture and city life. But I also believe that complaining about Waco’s quirks and differences will only make me miss out on the hidden gems of this city.

We have vowed to keep Waco wacko, but we refuse to step outside of our Baylor bubble. We are only here for four years, or maybe five or six, and refusing to explore the town we have adopted would be a shame.

Unknown to the Baylor crowd are the festivals that are held nearly every weekend in the Waco area, the charming art galleries, or the active theater life.

We even have a Swing Dance Society.

Baylor has made some effort to reach out into the Baylor community through initiatives like Urban Missions, all of which contribute greatly to the community, but rather than seeking what we can do for Waco, we should see what Waco can do for us.

As a reporter for the Arts & Entertainment section, I have been stretched and challenged to dig deep and report the greatest parts of this city to you. I was nervous at first because of the stereotypes we all have about Waco, but this city began to surprise me.

I never knew about the Greek communities and their annual festival or the Waco Civic Theatre’s award-worthy performances. I did not realize how easy it would be to explore this town.

Many of us might remember the Passport to Waco books from last year and all of the top-notch restaurants listed in the guide of businesses. Why don’t we actually go visit them?

There is the Legacy Café & Art Gallery downtown, Clay Pot for a Vietnamese craving, or Metro Restaurant & Bar for the night owls.

You could even take the staggering journey all the way to Hewitt and eat lunch at The Mix Gifts & Café. The food there is fantastic.

I know it can be a struggle to make an effort in this town when we are so obviously busy in our Baylor bubble, but failing to bloom where we are planted and find the beauty in a town that is otherwise overlooked by other Texans would make us miss out on some great opportunities.

You never know the hole-in-the-wall gallery or restaurant you might stumble upon if you commit even one day to exploring this truly interesting city. Take a walk downtown and enjoy the depth of history and culture that seems to be so forgotten by all of us.

So next time you are sitting around on a Saturday night, pick up a Baylor Lariat and read our Arts & Entertainment section. We have all the fun events lined up for you. You could even go see the Beach Boys this weekend.

Hayley Gibson is a junior International Studies major from San Diego, Calif. She is a reporter for the Baylor Lariat.