Whenever I am asked where I’m from, I’m never really sure what to say. As the daughter of a United Methodist pastor, my family moved often, and I never really established a place to call home. This used to bother me. I had friends who had spent their entire lives in one house, in one town. They had gone to school with the same people their entire lives, and it seemed like they had something that I didn’t: a place they belonged to. But this idea changed for me during a trip abroad the summer after my freshmen year of college. Because of that experience, I believe that connections with people are what make a home.
In the summer of 2006 I spent a month in Bumula, a small village in western Kenya. I was nervous, and didn’t know what to expect. Driving down the rocky dirt road on the way to the village, I felt the same fear that I had felt when moving to a new place: the fear of being an outsider in a set community. My fears were quickly put aside. Upon arriving in Bumula, I was overwhelmed with the welcome of hundreds of villagers. The women taught us traditional dances. Students my age spoke to me about their own classes and fields of study. A woman named Beatrice taught me words in Swahili, patiently repeating phrases until I could say them back to her. It was humbling to see the effort that people made to include me, to make me a part of the community. And with each conversation, each moment spent trying to understand one another, I felt like I was home.
I will never have a geographical location to claim as my home. But through the kindness of a small community in Kenya, I have realized that the relationships I build within a community are home enough for me. It has taken me a long time to realize, but looking back I see that through each move, each new experience or venture into the unknown I became a part of a community. Having the opportunity to connect with others is what has really impacted me and stayed with me all these years. When I was young I was upset that I had no place to call home. Now, I feel fortunate in that I can make a home wherever I go. And this I believe.