By Cady Lang '14
3000 miles. The approximate distance from the Bay Area, California to Ithaca, New York. The distance between the home I was born into, and the home I found.
Home is an interesting concept; it’s where we find comfort, rest, and identity. It’s just as much a physical place as it is a concept, a state of mind. We leave home to search for ourselves. We reference home to identify ourselves. We return home to find ourselves. We create home to ground ourselves.
Often, home is associated with family. In California, my mother and two little sisters live in the house that I grew up in, my home. It’s the home where I dreamed of becoming a writer, scribbling away in a journal everyday since the first grade. It’s where I played with sidewalk chalk on the driveway, ate ice cream on the stoop, and practiced piano reluctantly. It’s where I grieved when I was thirteen and my father died unexpectedly. It’s where I started a newspaper at my school, and also where I decided that I would major in journalism when I applied to colleges. It was at this home that I committed to making a new one in Ithaca, after discovering that I was a recipient of the Park Scholar Award.
Home is also associated with support. In this, I find the home that I have with the Park Scholar Program here in Ithaca. This is the home where I have honed my writing skills and gained confidence as a journalist. It’s the home that I have found with a community of people who see the world as a place to do good, where I found solidarity with people who cared about service. It’s where I have been intellectually engaged and challenged, where I have found not just a love of learning, but a hunger for pursuing it relentlessly. It’s where I met 14 fellow scholars four years ago, and am proud, grateful, and humbled to call them my closest friends and inspirations. It’s where I have done the work that I am most proud of – reporting on the stories that reveal the humanity in our society, helping to create an Asian American Studies Program on campus, promoting childhood literacy, helping to instill a love of learning in elementary classrooms. None of these things would have been possible without the support that I have received from the Park Scholar Program, which has become my home away from home and my family, my community, and my tribe.
I came to Ithaca for an education, but am leaving with an incredible support system and unique community. Whether it’s the conversations that I have in and out of the classroom with my fellow scholars, the alumni who are always willing to help me, or having a life chat with Matt Fee, I know that this program has given me a home that I can always return to.
In a few short weeks, I’ll leave Ithaca for the unknown. But the beauty of home is that you always carry a part of it with you. Just like when I left my home in California four years ago to move to Ithaca, I’ll always remember how this place has shaped the person I am, and I know that I can always rely on the people and experiences I have found here. This is a home that I will always return to.