For the Write About Your City competition. Amanda reflects on learning to love her town.


1. Hometown

She wandered about from plot to plot of land, searching out each wide space of lands for certain aspects that meet her specifications exactly. Flat land, lots of grass, close enough to the plaza in town.

Amanda Hawthorn was planning a Community Garden.

She had first been in a large scale garden the year before when she went to college. It was strange for her, that experience. She had graduated in a class of sixty-six people, and chose to go to a college that was made up of nearly fourteen thousand. And, oh boy, it was a different experience for her. Amanda had always thought that she wanted nothing more than to get out of small town Apollo. Given the fact that her family made up about one quarter of the population, she wanted to be somewhere different. And, truthfully, she really wanted to showcase independence.

She had commuted nearly 45 minutes daily to the school in the summer, which is when she began volunteering at the much larger town’s community garden. Being a vegetarian and humanitarian, Amanda naturally loved it. Not only that, but she had a great friend beside her the entire time. At this garden was the first time that she had been around such a diverse group of people. Remembering orientation and the diversity group activity she had had to do, Amanda knew that there would be a diverse group. But, in small town Apollo, nearly ninety-five percent of the population was white. She had never been around so many other types of people. Races, religions, and sexuality all differed among the group of honors teenagers.

Between summer courses, volunteering, and midnight pancakes at the local Catholic Church, Amanda found that she loved her new schooling, and couldn’t wait to move onto campus in the fall. But, when she did, she found a very racist roommate. She had previously only known whites to be the cause of such hatred, because she went to a high school that had only four kids of color, and at that, they had all grown up around each other and so it wasn’t too much of a big deal. But in hickville, a popular nickname for Apollo, a lot of parents and grandparents of friends had grown up in more racially insensitive times. Seeing as her roommate was from Mexico and going to school on a Visa, Amanda could sort of understand where her roommate was coming from. After all, amnesty and immigration were always topics in the news and classroom.

Not only did she and her roommate fail to hit it off, Amanda found it much harder to make friends on such a large campus. She didn’t have multiple classes with the same people, and had already been rather shy and awkward. She fell into a depression.

After a year of school, she decided to switch, opting for living at home and commuting to a much smaller University. As much as she thought that her town was boring and nothing would ever come from living there for all of her life, Amanda realized that she ultimately preferred to be around people that she knows and is comfortable with. She realized that she loves her small community.

But, she thought as she stared at a plot of land, pulling up her phone to take a picture of the vastness- It was nearly perfect for this garden, and she knew that she had to show it to the others involved in the project, we could always improve what’s already here. 

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