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South Carolina Honors College

My Name, My Roots, My Home

by Dayanara Reyes

Restaurants start to ask for your name now. They ask so they can call it out when the food is ready. I am in line at the local Taco Bell, and I hear everyone in front of me saying their names at the beginning of their order. “Jim,” “Madison,” and a “Stacy” have gotten their orders taken. It’s my turn to say my name and the cashier’s face has a puzzled expression. Twice she asks for my name after the first time and then brushes it off as she has become tired of trying to guess it. That was the last time I gave my name in public.

Every time after that, my name was Diane. I adopted the name Diane for all the citizens of this old-fashioned town. I didn’t understand then how I erased my roots for this town. For a simple fast-food restaurant, I have drowned my roots in iced tea and buried them under dirt roads. I sacrificed the name that the calloused hands of my father gave me to conform myself to this state that he chose. Dayanara Reyes, how simple and beautiful my name is. My parents chose this state because it was like their home. How could I mold myself to fit into this place when I was born with the blood of a different country?

With the blood and body of a foreign country, I walk the downtown of Newberry. I look at the trees that line the street then stare at the houses that were built a century ago. Those houses with white bones and skeletons in their closets have been turned into a home for someone who wouldn’t have been able to step foot in their yard when it was built. The times change with the leaves of the trees. Today, I am proud to be from South Carolina.

How sweet she is, just like the tea served in every restaurant here. She is like a grandmother who scolds her grandchildren one second, then gives them a warm embrace the next. Her body has been modified to home more, but her mind has not changed in years. If I were to change something about South Carolina, it would be her mind. I love her physical being: the roads, the trees, the blackberries, and peaches. But her mind hurts others to the bone. Her mind has not yet changed completely. It hurts to know that your home has half-open doors, where not everyone can enter, and your name must be Diane to be accepted there. I would change her mind to be more welcoming and to embrace acceptance to the whole world. It’s a citizen effort, but it starts with her. It starts with letting teachers teach history at its fullest, without fear that their students will report them for making their blissful ignorance a misery. It starts with the people.

South Carolina has many children of different minds, but all were raised under the same bright stars in the night sky. All have a big white church to turn to in case of a crisis at home. And in every home, is either a cross or a welcome sign waiting because South Carolina taught us to be hospitable. To be hospitable is to welcome someone with warm embraces and a warm smile. When the city can’t love you like the farms that you pass on the way home, South Carolina has her arms open for when you come home. In the same state, you can drive to her coast and feel the waves of Isle of Palms grace your feet. The same waters carry the legacy of everyone South Carolina has hurt, but not to her own fault and more so the fault of her children. Her children, who she raised to be warm, kind, and respectful grew up to dishonor her wishes. Therefore, she is who her children are. She is to the rest of the world what they have become. She can raise them all she wants with words, but when they start to see actions from her is when they will truly respect her wishes. When her mind changes, and her actions change, her children will too. When she decides to embrace every last one of her children, and not just those who were raised seeing the tops of the trees, she will prosper with their love and devotion. Her change will bring color to the sunsets and bring hope to her children about their beloved home.

Dayanara Reyes

About Dayanara Reyes, first place winner

Dayanara Reyes is a junior at Newberry High School, where Dianne Hartness is her English teacher. The daughter of Evarista Leyva and Pablo Reyes, Dayanara is an avid reader and writer who enjoys being involved in her community and serving others.

Dayanara Reyes on Instagram.


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