By: David Huerta

My childhood memories can only retain so much from what I had experienced while I resided in Mexico. As a child, I would walk to the commercial center of Mexicali, Mexico with my aunt Luz. At the start of our walk we would cross a bridge. Under that bridge there was this murky river that had a foul smell, yet I would embrace that smell as a child. It was an odd smell yet it was not repulsing. It reminded me of the smell of moisture, that of a wet mop that had been used to clean. As I would cross, I would intake that smell. Its strangeness would make me visualize the sudden collapse of the bridge and I falling into that cloudy water. It was river that was branded into my memories regarding Mexico. Although it was a smell not regarded with being pleasant, it composed many of my memories.

Over the course of time things change and maybe it is inevitable. The city started to get remodeled and one of the beginning projects was to cover that river. Along with the covering of the river, the landscape changed with it. Roads were built along the side of the concrete caps of the river. The scenery changed with the aim to beautify the area. I was no one to make any decisions and maybe many did not want the river to expose such a smell. It all changed but every time I visit, you are caught off guard and a small hint of that smell entrances me.

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By: Valentina Vardanyan

The first place that came to mind when I read this story was Armenia.  After moving to Los Angeles, I have returned for vacation on several occasions and noticed the development of the country throughout the years.  Along with the development and progression, the country faced negative and counterproductive elements as well.

From my perspective as an adult, the changes were not completely positive and the most disturbing thing I witnessed was the concept of bottled water.  Armenia, a country known for its abundance of water from natural springs is truly neglecting its gift from nature by incorporating the concept of bottled water. While this may seem normal to those of us living in America, this approach is in fact a step backwards in sustaining natural resources.  Almost everyone in Armenia has access to clean drinking water that flows in from multiple springs throughout the entire country.  In addition to providing water to all households, there are public fountains that supply clean drinking water all day and night, therefore, it is nonsensical to produce and sell bottled water in Armenia.

I am truly concerned both for sustaining natural resources and because Armenia is my personal getaway.  After each visit, I truly feel refreshed since the air is crisp and the landscapes beyond beautiful. In addition to the pure and cleansing water, a significant amount of the food grown is organic.  All of these natural elements combined provide my mind and body with a detoxifying force that is very pleasurable.  Water is the main source of life and hopefully the wealth of nature will soon be acknowledged and there will be a movement against bottled water.

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By: Mihran Tashchyan

I attended a private Armenian school in Sherman Oaks, California during the first nine years of my educational journey. This school was called Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School, and until this day it is very important to me. After I graduated from the 8th grade, I moved to a different school due to a lack of viable high schools at Merdinian. I frequently visited my first school and slowly saw the number of changes it was going through. The main change was the decrease in the student population - what was once a school of 400 kids dropped to only 200-250 students within the past few years. The number of faculty members was cut down as well. The institution that helped developed me as a child into my teenage years was on the brink of "extinction." It was only recently that Merdinian took a turn for the better. An anonymous alumnus provided a significant donation that allowed the school to develop and sustain the foundation that it was built on.

This change in the overall ability of Merdinian to function created a fear within me because I have my childhood roots planted in the classrooms and the playgrounds of this institution. It was in this place where I formed lasting friendships, strengthened my religious values, and most importantly became aware of my culture and its history. It is my hope that the school remains for future generations of Armenian kids who want to start on the right path of life towards a brighter future.

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By: Armig Boghigian

Up until 3 years ago, my grandparents lived only 2 miles away from my family's house. I have so many fond memories of when my uncle would drop my grandparents off at our place for the day. We spent the day playing various card games, talking, and enjoying the wonders of the garden. I remember how active and happy we all were during these events. When it was getting late, they would tell us that they should head back to their house; my dad would declare that he would give my grandparents a ride home but they often declined because they would rather spend the time walking together. My sister and I used to break out crying because we wanted to go with my grandparents, and most of the time my parents would allow us to. I always felt like it was the greatest hour of the day. They would tell us stories about their pasts whilst describing our surroundings as we strolled along the usual route. Sometimes we would find a stranded grocery cart and my sister and I would hop in and goof around – the one constant was that we never failed to stop and glance at the passing trains on San Fernando Road.

My grandparents’ house was my second home. There was always an aroma of baked goods, and you could sometimes make out the faint noise of the television that was always on a maximum level of 3. I used to dangle on the railings of the covered stairs, which were on the right as we entered the warm and cozy home. My grandpa's coats and hats were on the wooden rack to the left near the big wall mounted heater. The backyard was where we spent most of our time, listening to stories, and running through the grass. We made sure we did not step on any plants (because we would get scolded), but nevertheless I felt most free in that area of the house. I miss that home; many years have passed and things have changed, as they often do. Since my uncle, his wife and children chose to move in with them, my grandparents decided that it was time to buy a bigger home. The new home felt different, as my grandparents only settled in the rear house. It's funny how things that used to feel so familiar and warm only remain as distant memories.