In his autobiography A Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela writes, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” Write about an unchanging place to which you have returned. Explain how you have changed, and what you discovered about yourself.

As I was part of Chicago, I thought Chicago was a part of me. It seemed as though nothing could extricate my Chicagoan heart, any more than tame my native accent. So when shifting vocational winds drove my family to Bethesda, Maryland, I thought the bond would hold. Five years later, when another gust promised to return us to our Midwestern homeland, I presumed the transition would prove seamless; after all, I was just going home. Yet once I returned, the city did not recognize me.

At first, I thought the Windy City failed to identify me because I was outside the context of my family. Although we had decided to return to Chicago, we had not secured a residence, and the start of Junior year lurked just past Labor Day. To attend the initial days of school, I moved without my family and boarded with my great uncle, Maynard. Aside from a room, he cushioned me with little else. However, through his detachment, I encountered an unprecedented liberty that demanded responsibility as an upkeep, and I learned skills varying from the operation of laundry machines (previously confusion captured in metal), to the science of scheduling a day. After two months, my immediate family joined me, and we inhabited our new domicile. But a family, or...

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