Daily Post Challenge: Map it Out

I was born, raised, and grew up in Stockton. I spent 18 years there, then went away to college, the negatives fresher in my brain than anything. Stockton doesn’t have the greatest reputation, and over the years it’s gotten worse. High unemployment, high crime rates, foreclosure, and finally bankruptcy have put a negative light over Stockton. However, it wasn’t until I came back after college, and began my employment search and my 7-month career in retail, that I really began to appreciate Stockton for what it is: a good-sized city, with more good people than the reputation suggests, and with people who have lived there all of their lives and aren’t planning on anything else, because it is good enough for them. Even though I no longer live there, I genuinely care about what happens in that city, it is after all, where I grew up, and where my family has always and still lives today. I think it has so much potential to return to where it once was.

I attended Christian high school in Lodi. I spent four years being transported from Stockton to Lodi every day, where I spent my high school years with people who were usually afraid of my hometown, and lived in or close to Lodi. Lodi is a small city, smaller than Stockton, and has a linear, put together quality that sometimes Stockton doesn’t have. However, I don’t see myself wanting to live there or spend much time there. It was a portion of my life that I spent with high school classmates, going to lunch with friends and walking across the street to a Subway from school where they knew my name and usually what sandwich I wanted. It was an experience spending time in Lodi, but that’s where it stays.

I worked at summer camp at Leoni Meadows Christian Camp and Retreat Center in Grizzly Flats for six summers. I felt that a transformation took place for me while spending my summers in the sunshine and cold in Grizzly Flats. I began working there at fifteen, and by the time I completed my last summer in 2009, I could see the growing up I had done there, going from a shy, quiet fifteen-year-old who did her job quietly and didn’t participate much, to a smiling, friendly 21-year-old substitute counselor/floater who enjoyed talking with everyone, doing her job to the best of her ability, and interacting with and making a difference in the lives of each camper she came in contact with. I think that working at summer camp was instrumental in my developmental time period, in shaping the person I am today, and helping my insecurities and fears be quieter and to listen to what should be done and when in order to help the kids there have the best time possible. I also gained a plethora of new skills to take with me in life, working in departments from housekeeping to food service to programming to counseling. There is no way I would ever take back any of the summers I spent there, despite ups and downs. If it wasn’t for summer camp, I might not have met my boyfriend either, who is my best friend, whom I’ve known for close to ten years, and I have my years at summer camp to thank for putting him into my life.

It’s a bit funny how I came to live in Angwin for four years. After high school, I didn’t want to go to college. I was mostly planning on going to Delta College to do general ed before heading off to college, if I ended up wanting to. I think I was tired of doing school, it had been incredibly easy for the most part and then poorly taught when it came to the subjects I simply didn’t understand and tried to work through. I had applied to some colleges, however, and one day my acceptance letter for Pacific Union College came in the mail. My mom looked at me and said, “Do you want to go to PUC?” I said, “Sure.” I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do, where I wanted to take things, but ended up seated comfortably in the office of Michelle Rai, my to-be advisor, professor, boss, friend, and now colleague. I signed up for the Communication Department, to study Public Relations and Journalism. Here started the ride of my life: satisfying my grammar nerding, learning public relations, writing skills, communication theory and application, psychology, sociology. Not to mention the dose of everything else I loved that I got to indulge in, including creative writing class, drama, wind ensemble, and the publications I helped with (Funnybook, yearbook, Campus Chronicle…in the same year). I really learned more about myself than I ever have, what I believe in and think is right, to what is right and wrong for me and those around me. PUC is one of the most liberal colleges in the Seventh-day Adventist system, and I appreciate the time I spent there. I joined a department that has amazing professors that care about your success and help you in any way they can, while making sure to let you walk on your own and challenge you every step of the way. I never imagined I’d want to live here on my own at a point in my life, but here I am, working two jobs and teaching part-time for three months at PUC. I am blessed and so grateful that I ended up choosing to attend college here.

St. Helena is where I work, where I go to lunch, where I do my shopping, where I run into people I know. It has all the charm and quaint feel of a small town, and some great people to go along with it. It started with working at Nimbus Arts: meeting people who volunteer and help out there, whether they sit on the board or teach classes or help with every event that comes through. I learned people and businesses by running errands, putting up signs, and interacting with media outlets for publicity. It continued when I began my job almost a year later at Meadowood, interacting with people on the property and learning St. Helena all over again: the culture, the food, the wine production. And it’s continued with working for a landscape company, seeing the agricultural side, the landscaping side, the side of interacting with and making clients happy. I am pleased to be working in a place like St. Helena, where you recognize people when you walk around, when you can know the people at your local coffee shop or even your local Safeway, and be in a place that is beautiful and antique in its own right.

Who knows where I’ll end up going next, and when that will be. These places have been good to me, and have brought to me where I am now. Here’s to a new adventure in the future.

This post is in response to the Daily Post Challenge for the week of January 7, 2013. Check out the post here.

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