Scavenger Hunt: Vania Johnson

Southeast Missouri: space to think, to make art, to know each other. Where people live the day to day and work hard to do, create and shape good things. Where we come together to help each other. Where natural and womanmade beauty abound. Where we have a place to be home.

We love our region and the funky, quaint, lovely spaces throughout it. Some of our favorite places throughout this region are out of the way, worn-in, hidden gems locals know about that we want you to experience, too. So, with this photo shoot, we’re sending you on a scavenger hunt: do you know where each of these places are?

When you solve these mini mysteries, drive to each spot and take your own version of a photo in the place. Be sure to tag @my_flourish when you post to Instagram or Facebook. We’ll reveal each location on Instagram in the following months and in the Fall 2020 issue of flourish. 

Now don your regional pride, get out there and make some art.

 

Here’s your clue:

This little spot sits right off a highway in a village where Union soldiers made their encampment during the Civil War. Since they couldn’t pronounce its name — which was the same as the town in Thuringia, Germany, the settlers had come from — the soldiers changed it to the present-day name. Alberta Skaggs, one of the owners of this little spot in the town, teaches at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and has published the novel “Vy’s Place” and the biography “Crossing the Mekong.”

Our recommendation?

Head inside to be inspired by the treasures and combination of colors that inspire against the funky, calming green paint on the walls.

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

Meet Vania

Hometown: Chihuahua, Mexico

Resides in: Jackson 

What are your top three favorite places in Southeast Missouri?  

My top three places would have to be Pho8, a Vietnamese restaurant in Cape Girardeau that has some of the best food in town. Second is Giant City; it’s a great place to spend time with the family in an outdoor environment. Last would be Legends Martial Arts — they have an awesome fitness program. I always love working out there; they make me feel accomplished, comfortable and excited.  

Tell us about a specific memory you have at a specific place in Southeast Missouri.

It has to be watching the eclipse at the Trail of Tears. It was nice hanging out with my friends and family waiting for the event to happen. I think that will be an event I will cherish and remember. 

Tell us about a smell that will always take you back to somewhere in Southeast Missouri.

The smell of honeysuckle. It doesn’t matter where I am; if I smell it, it  always reminds me of home.

How do you know you’re home?

I have moved a lot in my life, and I have to say, it’s where I feel at peace and with the people I love. Definitely I feel Southeast Missouri feels like home. 

What are three places you want to go to in Southeast Missouri that you haven’t been to yet?

I’m still new to the area, so there are many places I have yet to see, but I have had friends recommend a few places such as Elephants Rocks, Big Springs National Park and Round Spring Cavern. 

Tell us about your martial arts school and involvement in taekwondo.

I have been living here for four years now. We moved here from Little Rock, Arkansas, to open our own martial arts school, Legends Martial Arts. In May 2016, we started classes at the Osage Centre with 10 students, and fast forward to today, we moved to a bigger space and have more than 100 students. We are a family-operated business, and I’m proud of the community we have built at our studio. I truly believe we are helping change people’s lives one black belt at a time.

I started taekwondo 10 years ago, and I never thought it would become my career. I fell in love with competition and the confidence it gave me. I made good friends with people from around the globe and even met my husband. It pushed me to do things out of my comfort zone such as performing in front of hundreds of people and gave me the opportunity to travel all throughout the United States and to see people gradually change into better versions of themselves.

I am a 3rd-degree black belt and hoping to test for my 4th soon. I am also a 2012-2016 State Champ from Arkansas, 2017 and 2020 State Champ here in Missouri and a 2013 District Champ. I have been working really hard towards a World title; currently, I’m number 2 in the world in my age and rank division for the category of Forms and Sparring. World championships will be this November in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

It’s been a pretty awesome journey, and I still have more to earn and experience. I’m really so glad I found martial arts, that my instructors never let me quit and for their leadership.

Clothes, shoes, jewelry, and hat: Stash in Cape Girardeau

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer
Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

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