We asked teens around the world: How does your community affect your identity or sense of self? Caroline Colwell, a contributor from California, answers this question with her essay. You can read more essays on the Global Beat group page or on Facebook.
Next to my bed hangs a thin, beaded necklace with a carved pendant of an elephant head. This necklace is my connection to a community 8,000 miles away that has become my second home. It was given to me this past summer by my headmaster at Jupiter Primary School, where I have spent each of the past three summers working as a teacher’s assistant. By giving me this necklace, he meant to “tattoo me” as a reminder that I will always be part of their Naro Moru family.
My Kenya is not a string of five-star safari camps complete with six-course meals, porters, and a personal guide. It is not confined within the borders of the Masai Mara Game Reserve, or the beach resorts of Lamu and Mombasa. My Kenya is defined by the overall friendliness of the people and the incredible sense of community that prevails. It is going for a walk in the afternoon and having a neighbor I’ve never met invite me to her home for dinner. My Kenya is sharing a lunch made for me by a fellow teacher, understanding that in preparing the meal she sacrificed her last rooster. Over the last few years, I have come to realize that these acts of generosity are the rule and not the exception in this community.
Come back next week for Part 2 of Caroline’s essay! If you would like to contribute a Global Beat essay, send an email to KidSpirit at email@example.com. Take a look at our Submit Your Work page for more information about our editorial departments.