Friday, February 7, 2014

Home sweet home.

 Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog on the 5th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at, and he will let you know how you can start participating! 

For this month's blog carnival, we were asked to write a letter professing our love to the one place we love the most.

I'm not the most creative writer (as I'm sure you can tell by now!), so I thought about skipping this one.  However, the more I thought about it, the harder it was for me to decide what my favorite place actually is. There are so many places that I love and think about often, and I found myself coming back to this thought frequently, as if it wouldn't leave me alone. What is my favorite place?!  I was surprised at how hard it was for me to answer. However, after giving it considerable thought, I decided there's no place like home. While I'm often professing my love for Korea, I realized that I love my hometown of Manchester, NH in a very different way.

So, I decided to do the writing prompt. Here it is. Perhaps the first love letter that has ever been written to Manchester.

Dearest Manchester/Manch/Manchvegas (if you really want to be one of those people that uses that nickname...just kidding I sometimes use it too),

You're the largest city in New Hampshire, which isn't saying that much, but regardless means you face unique challenges in our little state.  You're the "ghetto" part of New Hampshire, or at least that's the word many people use to describe you. However, I think that quite honestly just goes to show that most people are lacking a true understanding of that word.  But I'll admit it, you have your problems.  You're not the most beautiful place (although, I argue you have your moments). You're not always safe, and you don't offer the most interesting things to do.

You have your faults, but when others offend you I find that I am always defensive. I get defensive even when I know what the other people say is true, because I feel that they don't really understand you. They don't know the whole story. You have given me everything I ever needed, so when people dismiss you it's as if they dismiss the relevance of an important part of my life. You're home, and there's no replacement for that.

You are the place where my parents grew up and met.  The place where my parents went to school.  The place where they were married, had children, and watched us grow up.   You're the city that my parents can drive through, reminisce, and tell stories about--even if some of those stories are somewhat disturbing ones from my dad's day as a cop. But still, you have significance to my family's history, and to me that's substantial in understanding my own identity.

Furthermore, you are the place where I was educated from kindergarten through high school.  The place where I made friends, stressed out about homework, and discovered what I liked and didn't like. Despite the fact that people always say how terrible your schools are, I know that I received an education that allowed me to excel in college.  People love to hate on you, but all I know is that while my peers at college were struggling to adjust to college workloads during our freshman year, I was getting top marks in my classes.  Maybe things are different now, but because of what I received I continue to believe in what's possible.

You provided me with a solid education, but perhaps more significant are the relationships that I've formed in your presence.  You're the place where I fell in love with dancing and consequently met the women who became my role models. The women who without any doubt molded my character, especially during my impressionable teenage years.

So, I recognize you are not the most glamorous place.  You can't compete with the sophisticated charm of Portsmouth. You don't contain the staggering beauty of the mountainous northern towns. And you certainly don't have the money of your affluent neighbors.  I will always encounter people who make judgments about me when I tell them you are my hometown.  But regardless of these things, you are the place where the true, unconditional support in my life remains. The people who love me the most can be found within your borders- whether it's at my parent's house, my church, or the dance studio. You are the background to my most important memories, and I can't separate the person I am today from your influence.

I'm glad I'm not with you now. I needed to leave you--it wouldn't be right for me to stay. However, I know when I return, whenever that may be, that I will be filled with a sense of security and comfort that I will only have in your presence.  I'm not sure I'll ever want to stay with you forever, but I know that I'll always believe in your potential.

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