My Hometown

January 12, 2012
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Ice cream can describe every situation. Problems should be attacked like you would eat a triple stacked brownie sundae in a waffle cone: from a strategic point so that everything doesn’t topple over. Life can also be described through ice cream. My hometown of Suwanee would be the base of a sundae, a scoop of vanilla.

Suwanee is a typical suburban place, big enough to include the amenities of a city, but small enough to still have that homey feeling. It has beautiful greenways, cookie cutter homes, and environmentally-friendly people. Vanilla, a universal favorite, is a perfect base for a sundae: strong enough to stand by itself, but gentle enough to mix with other flavors. Suwanee is also a perfect base for character development. A fairly safe place, Suwanee doesn’t have many perils to worry about, which is great when you’re busy discovering the world, whether it’s what is inside that pretty red caboose when you were five or the world of volunteering when you end up working a music festival in the park at fifteen. It is a place for me that is firm, stable, and unwavering, a perfect contrast to the tempestuous teen world. Suwanee stood still enough for me to discover my passions and goals for the future. It taught me to chase my dreams of becoming a diplomat, a job which combines my passion for traveling with my passion for exploring different cultures. Here in my home town, I learned to make my reality catch up with my fantasy.

But, Suwanee taught me more than that. Vanilla is cosmopolitan. It goes with every ice cream flavor from the fruity to the nutty to the rich. Being vanilla is vital to being a good traveler, an ice cream principle I learned from the people of Suwanee. Even if most aren’t well traveled, the inhabitants are always open-minded to hear different stories and ideas from other cultures. Whether it is the standard caramel and chocolate sauce or more exotic, like fresh kiwi and melon, vanilla is always welcoming to whatever topping is added to it. Vanilla is the base of most ice cream concoctions, and so are the people of Suwanee, always working together to make an event a success or raise money for a certain organization. They are always there to intervene but don’t intrude; vanilla never stifles other flavors but is always there to add a little something to the dessert. Just using these principles made me a better traveler. By being open-minded, I was able to learn more about the street kids of Andheri when I delivered the traditional Indian lunch with my grandma at the school on the street. By being engaging, I was able to not only eat a medieval meal in Tallinn but I also learned about the Estonian history behind the food I was consuming as well as the interesting folklore, like the legend behind rose petal pudding. By being polite when asking for directions, I was rescued from reading bewildering Russian maps of the Hermitage to find my way out.

Suwanee taught me not only how to blend in but also how to stand out. In a town of vanilla, competition is tougher because the choice is between vanilla and … vanilla. I discovered how to color my ice cream to make it as bright as it tastes. I grew to embrace my entire heritage rather than display only popular parts. I learned to be proud of being in a religiously diverse household even if it created more spiritual questions for me. I learned to add toppings to my ice cream from the typical strawberries and sprinkles to the more atypical raw coffee beans, mangoes and pistachios. I discovered how to express myself fully from my idealistic head to my determined toes. I learned to hold onto all my dreams from the major ones, like becoming a diplomat and traveling the world to the minor ones, like completing BBC’s “Book Challenge” by January 2012. I discovered how to stick to my passions, from my Jane Austen addiction to my need to learn about every part of the world.

But perhaps I’m giving an inaccurate portrayal of Suwanee; it’s not pure vanilla. You just have to dig a little deeper to hit the veins of smooth caramel or the tiny pieces of cookie dough and dark chocolate, just like you would delve into Suwanee to find all types of people, from those who have lived here for generations to those who just moved in from Arizona to Uruguay. Each of them has a story to tell, just waiting to be revealed; all you need to do is ask. Suwanee taught me not to take things at face value but to plunge my spoon in and discover what is actually hidden in the deceptive, creamy surface.

So, Suwanee may not be one of the top ten most interesting places to live because, after all, it is mostly vanilla, but everyone needs a base. And sure, I do want to break away and try all different flavors from soy chocolate and mango to raspberry roulette. I want to travel the world and leave my mark, but Suwanee gave me a base to start with, to practice with, and I think that I’ve left a good mark.





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