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My grandfather, a retired French engineer and fine wine-lover, once told me the secret behind a spectacular wine’s taste was its unique terroir, or the combination of the soil, gradient, and weather. Like wine, we are all influenced by our environment. I, for example, am a product of Madawaska, Maine. The Acadian heritage, the personality of the people, and the welcoming feel of the community as a whole have all contributed to my identity.

Unlike wine, however, people are influenced by multiple places. I moved to Wisconsin late this summer, and now the culture and feel of this new place is beginning to make a similar connection for me. Before now, my time in Wisconsin was marked solely by fleeting summer vacations, and I didn’t really know the area. Yet, this area has become the anchor for my uprooted culture through the memories I had as a child, the stories my mother told me, and the memories I’m making now. At the old Victorian house on Main Street in Madawaska, I remember racing my remote control car with my brother, learning how to ride a bike, and walking to the recreation building. In South Milwaukee, when I see other children participating in similar activities that I did, I can’t help but think ‘Would I be any different if I was raised here in South Milwaukee instead? ‘

Every wine-lover will say that terroir leaves a small trace in the final product. Similarly in life, the places that influence us the most don’t necessarily need to where we have spent most of our time.





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