Personal essay by Matthew yemola

Since preschool children are taught different borders separating Countries, States, Counties and cities. These imaginary lines drawn on maps no longer define an area accurately because over time these areas have changed so much. The lines that are drawn on maps were placed a  long time ago and since there placement the cultures of these areas has changed and bleed into different areas. If maps were drawn again today and the lines were drawn based on differentiating cultures from different areas they would look very different. 
Growing up in what was still Philadelphia, but not personally calling it Philadelphia shows just how much of a border there is between living in the suburbs verses living in the city. When I was a child going into the heart of Philadelphia was like going to a completely new country. People talked and acted differently from me. even though we were only separated by a  thirty minute train ride. Now that I have gotten to experience both of the areas, I can safely say that they should both not be considered  Philadelphia. Most people from both areas talk about the other as a different race almost. The interesting thing is seeing that people who experience both sides  do not seem to notice the differences. Most of the people who get to see both worlds can not see a difference between the two and this freaks me out. I wonder if maybe the two parts of Philly are actually the same and i am  just acting crazy but then I tell myself that cannot be true. 
Seeing how people who live in the city vs those who do not handle different situations is weird. People from the city tend to be much more happy,but with not as much patience. They are also not afraid to voice their displeasure with something. People who live outside the city tend to be not as loud and more independant. Not only do they act different, but there is  an age gap as well. Most people living in the city tend to be either single or living with just a spouse. Rarely do I see a family for 5 living in the city. In the Suburbs however this is reversed and the majority of the residents are families.
My earliest memory to being in the heart of philadelphia took place at SLA. I was in Mrs.Giorgio’s room for what I think was parent night . This was the first time I met my whole advisory and got to see all of their parents. It was very interesting to me to see such a wide diverse range of people in one area. At my old school the population was mostly white so seeing just one different race wasn't unusual to me but seeing a plethora of different people with different backgrounds was such an odd thing to me. I remember seeing my friend  Nick and his parents for the first time. For some reason I cannot seem to forget one of Nick's parents had a cane. When Mrs. Giorgio was done addressing the class and asked the parents if they had any questions, the first person to put up their hand was nick's mom. I remember her overly friendly tone weirded me out, but what was more strange was the weird accent she had. At the time, I had never heard it before and thought she might have a speech issue or something. After sometime, I found out she had a south philly accent. 
I personally think that going to school in the city has had a massively positive impact on my life. There have been many ways that city has changed me and I couldn't be anymore happy with these changes. I personally believe that the inner city is a much better place to allow a teenager to develop because of the benefits the city gives. 
Getting to experience the city everyday allowed me to see so many different groups of people that I would never be able to experience if I stayed in the suburbs. Seeing all these different races and cultures everyday made me much more accepting of different people and their ways of living. Seeing all these different cultures made me much more open about my own. Im personally a devout atheist and up until my journeys into the city I was very secretive of it and would never speak about it in public. Something about being in the city though makes me feel safe when talking about being an atheist. I think being around such a variety of people made me realize that someone is always going to have different beliefs then you. After realizing this I just simply stopped caring about what others thought of my opinion. 
Another great thing the city taught me was social confidence. While going to school in the suburbs I was a very quiet person who never engaged in social interactions and was very independent. Since going to school in the city I have become drastically more confident in conversations and am no longer afraid to order food for myself at Shake Shack. While i'm still quiet i'm not longer constantly worrying about social interactions and now enjoy participating in conversations. 
Overall I couldn't be happier that I decided to go to school in the city. It's given me so many different experiences that I would've never been able to experience. It's shaped me into the person I am today and couldn't be happier with my life. The city gives a way for people to experience things and discover themselves. I couldn't suggest going to school in the city anymore than I do now.


Comments (1)

Harrison Wellner (Student 2018)
Harrison Wellner

I never knew that choosing to attend school in the city was such a big decision for you, and that it had such a positive impact on your life. I think it's interesting to hear the perspective of someone who's actually experienced both the city and the suburbs instead of someone predisposed to one area criticizing the other with little to no real experience. I think your writing is solid, outside of a few minor errors, and I really like the way you describe people's treatment of suburbs vs. city is almost comparable to a separate race. I think it's interesting to realize how much where you live affects your thinking, and while it's disheartening to hear that there's yet another reason for people to separate each other into groups, it's fantastic to see how merely experiencing both can change someone's perspective, like it did yours.