Elias Varn

Fairview, Buncombe County, North Carolina

Photo: Matthew George

I am a student at the George Washington University, born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. I have studied in Seoul, South Korea with the U.S. Department of State and engaged in student advocacy surrounding green energy development in the Western North Carolina area. My upbringing in Southern Appalachia cultivated my love for cooking, gardening and hiking. 

What Elias hopes to achieve through the AAN:

I hope to gain a better insight on both my own community and the greater Appalachian region’s diverse communities and how they all have been impacted the past presidency and COVID-19, as well as learning more on their own histories.

What he’d like to see happen during the first 100 days of the next presidential administration:

I hope that we can see a form of reconciliation and move towards having more productive discussions when people disagree. Western North Carolina has very far left and far right thinkers and we need to get into a space where we can have in-depth discussions that are based around real tangible solutions and not petty fights. I hope to see more of a chance to come together rather than separate ourselves. 

Elias’s advice for journalists who want to cover Appalachia:

The way in which you project your perceptions onto others will impact the way they respond. Understand the complex, long, and diverse history of this region before making sweeping assumptions about who we are and what we stand for. 

Reach out to Elias through this form: