Upon reading a Facebook status update from a friend (also from Bakersfield) on the sentimentality of missing your hometown after moving away and feeling somewhat a stranger when returning to visit, I was reminded of something my mom, Susan Hersberger, taught me more than 10 years ago.
Working alongside my mom and other community leaders to support the Vision 2020 project for a better Bakersfield, I declared to my parents that I would never "come back" to Bakersfield after moving away for college. In her wisdom, my mom knew I was probably right. So she told me to go out and find "my Bakersfield" -- a community in which I'd be proud to serve and raise a family. She told me to carry forward those elements of my hometown that I value into this new community. In a sense, she told me I would never really leave home because I could always bring with me those things about "home" that I love.
Sitting more than 2,500 miles away from "home" in Miami, where I now live with my husband and infant son, I still find it unlikely that I will return to live in Bakersfield. But as my family seeks our future home, I am reminded once again of my mom's words all those years ago.
Bakersfield will be well-served to not only raise a new generation of bright and talented kids who come "home" after receiving an education and exploring the world, but also to send off into that world young people who will bring to new communities the same values they appreciated in Bakersfield.