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Student to Student

by Hayden Ward, Park City High School Intern

Some consider life in Park City, Utah a privilege. I won’t argue. Many aspects of life in this town are more than advantages. We have excellent schools, a safe environment in which to learn, live, and play, free public transportation, and ski slopes in our backyard that double for hiking and mountain biking during the summer. The town, while exploding in growth, is still small enough that everyone knows everyone, and a strong sense of community remains at the heart of the town’s identity.

These are all positive things. Nothing about which I could complain. I have experienced no serious crime or suffering. Though I have had my share of personal hardships, my challenges pale in comparison to what people experience in other places in the world. I have had friends injured through skiing, biking, or accidents. A few have even passed away. But in our town, there are no drive-bys, no stray bullets or gang shootings finding their way into our subdivisions. There are the dangers of sport or the natural world, but there is nothing to create or feed fear for survival, and few concerns for personal safety in our homes.

I do not mean to say that I wish for these negative things. But in some ways, the experience of a bigger city, of dealing with problems and obstacles that some are confronted with every day, is something I have sometimes envied. It’s not that I want to experience crime or lack of safety, but that I crave the experience and knowledge that is common to those who have matured at the hands of a more diverse life.

Here, we live in a cocoon of safety and familiarity. But I have had glimpses of the world outside our protected enclave, just enough to be enlightened that there is more to see. It is yet another privilege that I have traveled through the United States, and abroad to Mexico, the Caribbean and China. I’ve seen life in other places, enough to know that in the grand scheme of street smarts, ingenuity and intelligence through diversity and experience, I am as naïve as a small child.

It’s not just a broader expanse of experience that I crave, but a more diverse palette of people to interact with and learn from. Park City is primarily a Caucasian community. While a burgeoning Latino population is slowly changing the demographics of our area, illegal immigration issues, labor laws, and even latent racism separates many Latino residents from the life that I know in Park City. But what I see in them are people working hard at learning our language, at making a living for their families. I see the courage it must have taken to leave their homes, the life that was familiar, to start over somewhere new. I wonder if I would have such courage.

I love my home, and will defend the things I love here. Park City is my foundation and my roots here are strong. But my wish is to develop experience from the outside world, to bring myself to a stronger place of maturity through exposing myself to things outside this sheltered place. I want to find people in their many colors, styles and nationalities; other countries, languages and skills, foods and laws. I want to be changed by such experiences, to interact with the expanse of the world and find its wisdom. I want to listen, observe, experiment and learn. Above all, I want to stretch my roots from the shelter of this soil. I want to grow.


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