Students Reflect on the Meaning of Home


Seton Falls Park is two blocks away from Brianna Hobson’s house in The Bronx.

Baruch’s Journalism Department invited students to write essays about their personal experiences of home. Dollars & Sense is publishing a selection of the winners from the Spring ’22 essay contest.

First Place: Brianna Hobson

Home for me is the slums of the East Bronx. From the outside, my hood looks like a paper mache cut-out of a Gordon Parks photograph. When the front door slits ajar, a mouth somewhere opens to yawn. Perhaps out of boredom, out of violence, or something else. In truth, I used to envy friends with two parents because their houses were proper homes. With bills fully paid in, and their living room lights always on. But as a young adult, my small and cluttered apartment gives me solace. Like heroin to a junkie, my home is as meaningless as it is meaningful; it is a gangster’s paradise.

Second Place: Sven Larsen

As a kid, I always wanted aliens to visit me in Queens but my mom said they only go to places like Kansas since they need somewhere quiet to explore. Our neighborhood, Corona, has never been quiet, with its blasting car speakers and old women yelling.  Younger me hoped aliens would like that noise in the same way I do.

Third Place: Tamanna Saidi

Musafir. The word that intrudes on every call my mom has with any Afghan, coming out in reminiscences of home, in conversations about rude American neighbors, in times of death, and in times of birth. Sometimes, I can’t make out the other parts, the parts about Ghani and corrupt leaders and the toils of life. But Musafir rings in my ears. Traveler. Afghans do not call themselves immigrants, but travelers— travelers away from home and who hope to one day return to an Afghanistan they won’t have to flee. Musafir may mean traveler but has made a permanent stay in every phone call conversation of my Afghan mother.

Honorable Mention: Siddrah Alhindi

If the walls in my home could speak, they would sigh and wish they could have been deaf. The walls have heard and absorbed many sounds, and they are still listening to this day. Kitchen clatter as my stepmom chops vegetables and turns on the stove to prepare dinner, children’s cartoons and nursery rhymes emanating from the TV while my baby brother eagerly watches, alternative music playing off of my sister’s record player as she paints, and the quick typing of fingers on a laptop keyboard late at night coming from my room. Yet amongst the various noises and conversations that have filled this house for years, there is one in particular that everyone prays they never hear again.

Honorable Mention: Kenia Torres

I am standing in the dark, in front of my kitchen window which faces the view of the street. Barefoot. Feet pressed against the cool kitchen tiles. The digital clock on the stove next to me indicates it’s 2am in fluorescent green numbers. Outside the lonely streets are illuminated by the dim glow of a single streetlight and the flashing red lights of the ambulances and cop cars that won’t stop passing by. I’ve gotten used to the sound of the sirens haunting the night. Their loud piercing cries a reminder, an announcement, of what happens to the unlucky in times like these. But from the second floor in which I stand, it all seems so distant. So impossible. So unlikely to happen to me.

Honorable Mention: James D. Reilly

My senior year of high school is a blur. 

I remember highlights: The pact my best friend and I made to have sex if neither of us had real dates to prom (and how I couldn’t go through with it.) My team for the senior scavenger hunt was one of the largest–though, we’d quickly give up on the hunt and spend the afternoon talking beside the fence of the baseball mound, caked in shadows and green grass stains. I won a silver medal for a poem that was so awful I lost faith in awards everywhere. But I can’t tell you anything more substantial than that. Everything else I can recall are shadows on a cave wall, and even they I suspect could be more fiction than fact, more hands in shapes than diligent teachers.

More about the contest:

Prof. Bridgett Davis’ memoir “The World According To Fannie Davis” reveals a family secret: Her mom was a numbers runner in Detroit. It inspired Baruch alum David Shulman to fund a contest for students to share their personal stories during these unprecedented times.