Yesterday, on the first day of class, I asked my English students to write short essays in response to this prompt: "Describe the town you live in: the good, the bad, and the strange." Today, I've had the great pleasure of reading their descriptions. I've decided to share some of their insights, which are fascinating. Enjoy!
"There are still gangs today and they do what gangsters do: sit outside their house and act tough."
"We still have the Ducks, but does hockey really matter? Where are we? Canada?"
"I have no clue what 'Ana' means, but 'heim' is the German word for home."
"In a way, the city of Anaheim belongs to Disney."
"The bad part about living in Avocado Heights is that many people ride their horses on the sidewalk and don't clean up after their horses...There are also a lot of chickens in the town who roam different yards."
"It is rated 'number one' in some categories, such as worst air quality and highest crime rate. Also, it is 'number one' for most teen pregnancies."
"A rather strange thing about my town is that we seem to have some kind of media cap that does not allow news reporters to report (negative) stories. For example, I was on my way with a friend to an ASB event when we passed by a corner and saw a body on the ground. The boy was a teenager who was shot and killed, but we never heard anything about it on the news or in the paper. However, if someone gets shot in the town next to us, it makes the headline news. No one really knows why we have a media cap on the town, but we just do."
"At my high school the students would usually hang around kids their own race; however, they did respect students of a different race."
"Chino Hills kids are, for the most part, 'party kids.'"
"The residents of Chino Hills are very materialistic and somewhat 'snobby.' They like to buy the latest gadgets, bigger TVs, and generally tease those from Chino. One example was a picture posted on a blogging web site called Tumblr which mimicked a scene from The Lion King when Simba asks Mufasa what the land is that the sun doesn't touch and Mufasa responds, 'That's Chino. We don't go over there.'"
"Chino Hills, to me, is a rather boring city to live in, for it does not have much to do. Within my age group the most common activities to participate in are: going to the mall (The Shoppes), the bowling alley, the movies, or local sports games."
"Chino Hills was established in 1991, so it's barely 20 years old."
"Many people who live in Chino Hills are not very accepting of people who are different. They're quick to judge or discriminate. Mainly because they have been sheltered."
"There are several police cars patrolling the streets at almost every hour. I feel as though they are bored patrolling because they stop a lot of people for no reason."
"People who aren't accustomed may say the air smells like manure."
"On the very edge of town, it is reported, there is a nuclear testing lab out in the forest. When it is dark enough, you can see the radiation field. Locals call it the 'Green Glow.'"
"Segregation takes place in the schools. The different ethnic groups form cliques, and this often results in disputes and even violence. This brings me to another point: Chino has typically been known for violence."
"One of Chino's strange assets are its cows. There are thousands of them. And they smell."
"Lots or rednecks, hicks, conservative extremists, racists, and lots of drugs."
"The problem is that the city of Corona is growing. New homes are being built and are slowly creeping into the Cleveland National Forest."
"The city of Corona currently holds the nickname 'The Circle City' because, from a bird's eye view, it looks like a gigantic circle. At one point, it was a race track."
"Home of the oldest McDonald's."
"The mall is by far the largest attraction in Escondido."
"Unfortunately, in Escondido, there is a large split in diversity between Hispanics and whites relative to where they live."
"It is referred to as 'wholesome Folsom' by the locals because nothing bad ever happens."
"Fullerton was the home of my great-great uncle who owned an orange grove that now is the exact spot I am writing this essay from."
"The good thing about Fullerton would be having companies that provide a large number of jobs to the local community, such as Raytheon, the defense company, supplying thousands of jobs."
"We have a lot of illegals in our city."
"I remember people in school and other places would say that Valencia and Truslow were the 'ghetto.' When I was younger, I didn't see it as ghetto. All my friends from school lived there."
"Gilroy is the garlic capital of the world, and there are all sorts of restaurants which reserve a large portion of the menus just for special garlic foods."
"There is a man who rides his bike 7 miles every day to Hermosa to cruise the beach. Every time he sees a girl, he approaches them and says, 'Hey chicken, when you gonna take me surfing?'"
"There's not much to say about Hesperia except that I didn't like living there and sure am glad that I moved away."
"My town is known as the 'City of Champs.'"
"Ever since I was a kid, I have witnessed several arrests and unfortunately a lot of my friends have passed away."
"The 'Irvine bubble' basically means that life is so comfortable in the city that the residents in Irvine do not know life outside of it at all."
"One of the craziest people ever lived in La Habra: Octomom."
"I live in north Long Beach by the ghetto. I know it's ghetto because three blocks down from my street is a Rally's Burger and everybody knows when you see a Rally's, you're in a pretty sketchy place."
"My house used to be a corn field, along with my whole neighborhood. My neighbor, Carl, told me that he built his house right on the edge of the corn field and watched as the world slowly industrialized and slowly destroyed the corn field."
"Around my neighborhood you either hear police sirens or the ambulance every night. To me, this is extremely bad."
"Everyone knows each other because we only have one major high school. Out whole town loves our well-known THREE-PEAT championship-winning football team."
"There are several bad things about Montclair. This town is small in area, and doesn't have a 'big city' attraction. Furthermore, the weather can be extremely hot in summer, and chilling cold during winter. Also, there is not an In-N-Out restaurant nearby, so a person has to travel to another city to find this fast food franchise."
"Holt is a street in Ontario where you can see hookers being pimped."
"People living in Orange tend to keep to themselves and not interact much with those who live around them. Also, those living in neighborhoods tend to follow what those living around them do. When someone buys a new car, a house that lives just down the street will buy the same car a week later. If someone remodels the front of their house, a neighbor that lives two or three houses down will do a very similar remodel a month later."
"The Outlets of Orange, formerly The Block, has hired more security, implemented gang police, and is home to family-oriented stores."
"We are known to have a high rate of train suicides. Maybe people are tired of all the traffic here."
"It's totally not convenient if you don't drive. The public transportation is not that good."
"Rowland Heights is a segregated town, divided into three groups: The Chinese live in the western part of town, Koreans live in the central part, while Mexicans live in the eastern part."
"Next to the ocean we have a statue called the Cardiff Kook of a man surfing, and on weekends when all of the bars let out people tend to dress him in bras and bikinis."
"The one and only thing that is interesting about San Dimas is the haunted prison."
"One bad thing is the city is split into parts based on socioeconomic status. The south side is generally the wealthiest while the east side is the lowest class. Another bad thing is that it does get boring. Honestly, you can only go to the same theme park so many times or go to so many hockey games before they get old."
"It seems dull in a way. People walking down the streets, to and from school or work."
"There isn't really much to do in Walnut because it is mostly residential, besides eating."
"There's a lot of marijuana and ecstasy dealers. So, depending on your interests, it's good or bad."
"The strange city that I live in is Wilmington. It's that type of name that if someone hears it, they usually become frightened. I don't blame them, though, it's a pretty bad city with incredibly high rates of crime."
"Since 'Uptown Whittier' was built around 1900, all the structures feel almost like you are walking through the 'witch town' of Salem."
"As I grew up I saw friends getting jumped into crews or gangs. I saw no point of getting your ass kicked to get in something that does you no good. I started realizing that it was stupidity, fighting for 'territory' that wasn't even theirs."
"Whittier is known as 'The Land of No Freeways.' If you have to commute, it's terrible."
"Turnbull Canyon is a great place to hike. It's also known that the KKK have a house there. It's huge and white. Go figure. People are known to do witchcraft and and torture, like tying people to the back of cars and dragging them down the Canyon."
"There is no night life. It is the perfect place to raise a family."