Alexander Wallis on International Relations

Where I grew up and differences to where I am now

I am from Davis, California. I was born in Sacramento, and have lived in Yolo county my entire life. However, as I have many family members spread around the United States, I am well traveled within the country, and have likely cumulatively spent several years on the East Coast (Specifically New England and the Mid Atlantic). I have similarly lived in Costa Rica and Nepal for Nine and Three months respectively. While I consider California to be my home, I feel deracinated to a certain extent. My ancestors arrived in America (specifically Virginia) around 1700 (Or so the story goes), and soon took up the American pastime of itinerancy. While I know little of my forefathers early history, they eventually wound up in Arkansas, moved to Missouri, and then, around the 1930s, moved to California. This makes me a 3rd generation Californian. Again, I consider California to be my home. But the lack of an intergenerational homeland, a continuously inhabited region inhabited by the posterity of forefathers, is somewhat alienating. This is certainly reflected in the landscape of where I live (Davis) – It possesses no truly vernacular architecture nor traditions, it resembles more of an economic zone than a deep rooted civilization.


Report Finds Davis Has a Number of Most Walkable Neighborhoods in Region | Davis Vanguard



Therefore, in a sense I feel more at home in a place like Carlisle than Davis. While I am certainly acclimatized to the Mediterranean climate of California, and am predisposed to glee when laying in my own bed, I certainly identify more with the older architecture, the historical significance of the region, and the understanding that my ancestors would have lived in similar environs (minus the I-Phones, f150s, and, high fructose corn syrup). But at the same time, I swell with pride when a winding mountain road gives way to a stunning Californian vista.


In my breakout room, there were individuals (unfortunately, I am poor with names) from Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Morocco / Canada, and, the UAE (I apologize if any information is incorrect or misleading – our time spent together was very short). I am loath to discuss at length the differences and similarities between my home and others, as I simply do not have the information required to make judgements like that. However, we were certainly able to discuss certain similarities, for example cars, our love of driving, experiences with the Quebecois, and our experiences with international travel. There is a certain diversity of background in the group, so it will be interesting to see how future conversations and understandings develop between not just our breakout group members, but between our two classes as a whole.


Generally speaking, no one seemed to feel out of place in their respective universities. I certainly don’t; at least in a cultural sense, most of what I have encountered at Dickinson has been fairly par for the course.


Culturally, I am certain there are differences between the Dickinsonians in my break-out group and the AUS students. None of us (the Dickinsonians) grew up in an Islamic household, and I am fairly certain (but correct me if I’m wrong) that none of us are well traveled in the Middle East and North Africa, nor speak Arabic. I am  uncertain to what extent – if at all – this will affect our outlooks on world issues. It will  certainly be interesting to see how everything unfolds.


5 Responses to “Where I grew up and differences to where I am now”

  1.   Mansour Allenjawi Says:

    I thank you for posting this blog, and I can relate to what you said when it comes to having an interest in cars and traveling. In my case, I am not familiar with where my ancestors are from and where they moved out to, but I found the history of your family to be intriguing. Furthermore, there are not many things left around from my ancestors time, except historical landmarks, as my city has developed in terms of technology, buildings and more. Considering everything you have stated, I am curious to know, how would your ancestors react knowing that many of the elements from the past are still around?

  2.   bensonal Says:

    I’m pretty sure we were in the same breakout room. It’s interesting to know that you feel more at home in Carlisle. I have never correlated my comfort with the appreciation of historical significance. I might try this out and romanticize my time at Dickinson. You also seem to be very well traveled and well informed of your family tree. This is also something I lack.

  3.   Sarvagya Sharma Says:

    Thank you, Alexander, for telling us about your family history, your definition of home, and how your interactions went with your exchange partners. It was quite interesting to read about your family history and definition of home, in which you mentioned that your forefathers moved to America in 1700 and that you consider a place like Carlisle more homely than Davis. Moreover, it was also intriguing to read about the many similarities you had with your exchange partners, such as the love for driving cars, in your breakout room. In contrast to your experience, my discussion in the breakout room with my exchange partners revolved around our upbringings and experiences with diversity. One of my exchange partners had negative experiences with diversity, while the other had positive ones. Moreover, I also talked about my positive experiences growing up in a diverse city like Dubai. In fact, a huge proportion of the population in Dubai consists of expatriates in comparison to the Emirati population, and the expatriate population itself consists of many nationalities as well. Since you mentioned that none of the people at Dickinson’s grew up in an Islamic household and you are uncertain about its effects on our outlooks on world issues, do you think that culture in general does play an important role in comprehending world politics?

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  5.   jefferaa Says:

    Thank you for this blog post! I love how much you have traveled and all the places you have seen. I have also had family who traveled a lot at a young age and agree with the sentiment that home is where you lay your head at night! I myself grew up in the same state all 18 years of my life and have never experienced what it was like to live somewhere new until college. I wanted to know having traveled to so many places in your lifetime must have been a lot, How did you handle the constant change of environment, and sometimes cultures?

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