Community Essay

Tell us about the place, or places, you call home. These can be physical places where you have lived or a community or group that is important to you. (250 word limit)


The smell of sweet plantain fills my room and beckons me into the kitchen. My mom’s on the phone. She speaks loudly across the world to my aunt, while on the verge of blistering her hands from the popping oil. She hears me enter, then tosses the phone to me so I can say hello. “Kedu, Auntie,” I say. But oftentimes the long distance call becomes scratchy and I can’t always make out her replies.

My sense of community is a strange one. Although my mother is from Nigeria, I have never been there, and though our home has always smelled of her cooking, of Nigerian stew and Fufu, I have only tasted these dishes from our kitchen in Richmond. While I speak to my relatives over the phone in Eke, I have never been inside their world, woken up in their homes, walked the streets of their village.

Through my mother, however, I proudly claim this part of my identity. I talk to her in Igbo, I eat her plantains, I listen to her stories, and every Sunday my sister and I wear our traditional Nigerian clothing to church. Sometimes your community is right in front of you, and sometimes it reaches you in food, in language, and in phone calls. I am both: surrounded and reaching for what makes me who I am.

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