Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Different Home

To most people, home is a warm bed, a house on the hill, shade under a favorite tree, or a familiar street.   To me, home is all of these and more.  Most importantly, however, my home exists in my heart, no matter where I am.  My home is more than a specific location; it is a set of ideals that influences the way I live.

In winter, my home is a house in the rural town of West Point, the foothills of the grand Sierras.  But growing up, summertime meant home was the whole of California: the roads leading to every fairground and festival site in the state. This is where my life began. Not in the hospital where I was born or the small town where I went to school; for though my house rested on the dirt and pine needles of West Point, I grew up on the sun-baked asphalt of the fairgrounds.

As a young girl I had plenty of curiosity and creativity to spare.  These qualities thrived at the fairs.  As my parents and I moved from one venue to the next, the variety of people and constant change of surroundings thrilled me.  I met so many different people during those years: fairgoers, performers, exhibitors, and concessionaires.  People of all ages, backgrounds, races, and cultures went to the fairs.  Many of these people traveled extensively throughout the state, the country, and the world.  For instance, Tom (aka. “The Giant”), the airbrush artist spent winters painting for car shows in Japan.  Jimmy, the “Corn Dog King” wintered in Florida before retiring to a remote lake in Canada.  Dwayne, the ear-piercer/lawyer had studied all over the world, learning medicine in Croatia and gemology inThailand, while vacationing in Argentina and Cuba.  I listened avidly to these people’s stories, which sparked my curiosity and made me eager to learn more.  As my parents and I moved from one fair to the next, I looked forward to meeting new people and hearing new stories.

As I explored the world through others’ words, I also began to explore my own ingenuity. I was five years old when I started my first business.  I set my young entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to work, setting up a milk crate and a cardboard box next to my parent’s stand.  With twist-ties, Styrofoam cups, and a pen I created animals, rings, and decorations that I sold to anyone who gave me a second glance.  I greeted people’s surprise with a smile and asked everyone who passed if they would like to buy something. They could not say no.  The success of this business helped make me the confident, forward thinking person I am today.

The environment on the fairgrounds allowed my creativity and curiosity to flourish.  The nomadic life of working fairs meant I was never tied to one particular place.  I was at home wherever I could explore, learn, and engage in the world around me.  I knew life had no limits.  As I grew, my curiosity about other people and places evolved into an insatiable desire to travel.  I realized that as long as I could exercise my creativity and curiosity, as long as I could learn and stretch the parameters of my understanding, I would be home.

For me, home is not a certain place, but rather a state of being, doing, and learning.  As a child I roamed the fairgrounds: young, impressionable, and willing to learn; now I aspire to wander the world: still young, still impressionable, and yearning to discover more places to call my home.

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Clinton Global Initiative

Today has led to several interesting conclusions:  about life,  innovation, and initiative, as well as the state of the world in which we live and the people we share it with.   I am currently an undergraduate student at the University of California, San Diego.   From my experience, UCSD has a reputation for being “socially dead”, for lacking school spirit, and for being somewhat self-absorbed and removed from the community.   I’m not usually one to succumb to such blatant stereotyping, though I do take them into account (usually with heavy amounts of salt), but UCSD has surprised me this year.  We have continually moved up in rankings and made significant innovations and contributions to the world in various fields (though in my opinion our excellence as an institution of rigorous study and learning was never in question), but in just the past week everything has been taken to a new level.  I have never felt so much pride for my university as I have in the past two days.

One saying UCSD likes to throw around is “Six colleges, one great university”.  This statement is true, but rarely is the solidarity it implies really seen on campus.  Students stick to their own niches in their own colleges, which keep up a gentle competition with each other similar to sibling rivalry.  Tonight, however, no one was asked what college they were from.  The student body was proud to be part of something much larger than itself.  UCSD was one.  It was both united and part of a larger whole.  UCSD wanted collaboration and cooperation: not just within the student body, between colleges or individuals, but with students from other universities and other countries, with former presidents and current inventors, and in some sense, with all of humanity.

The excitement was palpable.  The arena was bright with lit up faces and excited chatter.  President Clinton was the star of the show, at least from the students’ perspective, but he soon turned the crowd toward a greater purpose.   You could feel the minds racing in the room as inspiration struck.  Soon awe gave way to contemplation and a critical approach not just to the speakers’ message but to the world of possibility.  Tonight, we joined together with hope: that the youth of our nation would provide innovative solutions to the world’s problems; that the university would serve as a diving board stabilizing, raising, and propelling students forward into the depths of change so that progress could be made; and that a simple idea could better the world.

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