ALMADEN, California, U.S.A. — If I was asked to describe my hometown of Almaden, I would not know what to say.
From the outside, Almaden is easily identifiable. It’s an affluent neighborhood of the tenth most populous city in the U.S. — San Jose – that greatly profited off its proximity to Silicon Valley.
But, to me, Almaden is so much more.
When I think of Almaden, I think of nature — of all the trails that bloom with wildflowers in the spring and cough with dust in the summer.
The trails are the best feature of Almaden.
There is nothing that can be compared to the beauty of an afternoon spent hiking, surrounded by mature trees.
Almaden is a tiny town in the middle of a bustling tech hub. The further a person drives down Almaden Expressway, the sparser the homes become.
We don’t even have a mall. The nearest one is technically in neighboring Blossom Valley so all the kids hang out in the local CVS and the overpriced boba shop near the middle and high school.
Before Almaden expanded, there were farms right next to one of the elementary schools, on Rajkovich Way. Now, all the farms are past Harry Road, which is about two blocks further down.
I worry the small town feel of Almaden is going to disappear.
A few years back, an organization wanted to drain Almaden Lake, where I had my fifth birthday party, and change the park into an indoor soccer field.
The school district wanted to move the middle and high school to Harry Road and use the existing schools as apartments for teachers.
Though the proposal was well-intentioned, moving the schools would mean that all the ranches and farms past Harry Road would eventually be turned into cookie-cutter houses.
Almaden is a diverse place. I am very grateful for this.
As an Indian, and I have never felt like an “outsider” as many other Indian-Americans have. There is a strong Indian community here, which pretty much raised me.
Almaden is also competitive. Most students in the high school that I go to strive to go to top colleges, so there is a pressure cooker atmosphere in the classrooms.
Taking accelerated courses such as Pre-Calculus Honors in ninth grade is becoming common, and it makes me stressed. I worry I am not doing enough for my future in this academic environment.
Still, I love Almaden.
I have lived here since I was two, and I cannot imagine my life if I had lived somewhere else.
I doubt I will live in Almaden forever, though. I want to explore the world.
Pavana Upadhyaya is a Junior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.