You know Arizona is your home when you find 70-degree days chilly, you count rain as a blessing, or if you own more swimsuits than long sleeve shirts. Arizona is definitely my home. While I consider Tempe my hometown, I am also deeply connected to other areas of Arizona. The valley is my first home, the forests of Northern Arizona are my playgrounds, and the University in Tucson is my home away from home.

Just because I was born and raised in Tempe, does not make it my hometown, I consider Tempe home for many different reasons. One of the major aspects that have made this town so familiar and welcoming is my school experience. Through my twelve years of schooling in Tempe, I learned firsthand what makes this city so special. Tempe has many traditions that create a sense of community and caring. In elementary school, my favorite tradition was the Turkey Trot. Around Thanksgiving time, each class would collect canned food to donate to local food banks, then on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving the entire school would participate in the Trot and run/walk around the neighborhood, and eventually celebrate with a Thanksgiving feast. This tradition continues on today, and is a great way to give back to the community, as well as connect with other citizens. Traditions like this bring a large population together, thus renovating a large city building into a home. Tempe has wonderful public schools that are clearly very important to the city; they have provided me with so much knowledge, as well a friendly community.

I also feel strongly connected to the city of Tempe because I was chosen as a student delegate in 2002 to represent our city. I participated in an exchange with our sister city, Regensburg. Through this process, I learned the history of Tempe, interacted with members of our city government, and showed a foreign exchange student all around Arizona. This is a wonderful way for students to learn about their home, as well as share the positive aspects with others. I am so grateful to Tempe for providing me with this opportunity because I learned so much and gained great pride in where I am from.

The landscape may be different, but Williams, Arizona is also like a home to me. My family shared a cabin in this quaint town outside of Flagstaff and gave us the chance to escape from the norm. With the forest as our entertainment, my siblings and other children in the neighborhood would create our own make-believe worlds. The beautiful landscape offered us so much fun and sparked our imaginations. We were able to experience snow and take ski lessons, without being burdened by harsh winters. It was ideal. When we were not being got dirty outdoors, we would take a drive into town, which in a way was like taking a trip back in time. On Friday nights, we could attend a reenactment of an old western gunfight or shop in the little stores that sell Arizona souvenirs and learn all about the history of this land. This town is the epitome of keeping old-time traditions alive and has taught me so much about my home state. I benefited a great deal from Williams, Arizona being my home.

If I consider Williams, Arizona a childhood home, then Tucson Arizona is definitely another home to me. I am a senior at the University of Arizona and love attending Arizona’s first university. My favorite part about going to college here is the large sense of community and living in a college town. Everywhere I go there is Wildcat pride. Tucson has made me feel welcome as a college student by supporting my school in local stores, restaurants, and other businesses. I can tell that other people love Tucson Arizona as well when I go to the football and basketball games. The entire community is dressed up and supporting their local team. I am studying to be an elementary teacher and have worked in the Tucson Unified School District as a volunteer. Through this experience, I have realized that the Tucson community is there for one another. Local churches donate clothes and food to the schools for families in need and many people volunteer their time as well.

Arizona is a great state and I am proud to call it my home. I am blessed to have three different places feel like home, which I believe all of Arizona is like. Populated by amazing people who come together to celebrate the past, present and future of Arizona.