Keenan Hammer

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Project 1: Biography Literacies

Keenan Hammer

Professor Marohang Limbu

WRA 130

September 23, 2013

Molded Through Experience


The most beautiful thing on planet Earth is the diversity of human life. Across the globe, people’s individuality is groomed, molded, and shaped by personal interactions, the places they live, and the experiences that they have. As the world becomes more connected, the cultural diversity of different locations can be seen with ease. Between jet planes and the Internet, the possibilities for travel and experiences are endless. Such expansion is forming a generation of the most well rounded, worldly population ever. Over the past 18 years of my life, I have lived in many different places. And further reflecting upon what I have experienced and whom I have met in each place has given me a strong sense as to how I transformed into who I am today.


My earliest childhood memories are from when I was a small boy growing up in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Born of a Father from New York, and a mother from Boston, the influences of Northeastern American life began at a young age. “What is Northeastern American life?” one may ask. Of course there are many different ways to answer this question, however, it can be best answered with a name: the Atlantic Ocean. Life on the coast of New England has traditional roots in nautical activities that stretch back hundreds of years. My family continued some of these pastimes on our own boat. Every weekend in the spring and summer we would be out on the ocean fishing or traveling to one of the islands off the coast. Additionally, every summer we return to the East coast to rent a house on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts.


Being raised around the water for so long and still returning every year plays a very large role in my everyday life. Ever since the first few times I went out on our boat that I fell in love with the ocean. This deep love is always in the back of my head. Though I have aspirations to get a great job after college and I will move virtually anywhere to get one, I plan on moving back to the East Coast at some point in my life. It’s where I am the most comfortable and content in the entire world.


Apart from the geographical influence, living in New England has influenced me in other ways too. The most prominent influence can be seen in my clothing choices. Just as a person from the South is held under a certain stereotype for clothing (such as cowboy boots and cowboy hats), the communities around the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean do too. For the most part, people dress in a preppy style. On any given day, instead of sneakers, jeans, and a tee shirt, you can find me in boat shoes, khakis, and a collared shirt. This choice in lifestyle has played a large part in the life I have today.


Since birth, I’ve been to New York every year of my life. Most of the time it has been to visit my Dad’s side of the family, but the summer before my sophomore year of high school, I had a much more business-oriented trip. I went to New York for a month to work at a golf course. Not only was staying away from home without my parents for a month exciting, but I also had gotten my first real job. I anticipated going into the trip that I would learn a lot about the golf industry, and what it takes to make it as an employee of a golf club. What I didn’t expect was how much I ended up learning about leadership and taking responsibility for my own future. Each morning I would head to the Golf Club of Purchase to carry out my duties for the day. My assigned tasks ranged from cleaning golf carts, to ensuring that the driving range was organized and tidy for club members. I met a great group of guys at the facility that taught me all the ins and outs of my job, but the best lessons I learned were from the head golf professional. Whether we hopped in a golf cart together and played a few holes or he gave me a ride home from work, the golf pro always had advice for me.


The conversations we had were never one sided. He would often ask me insightful questions and try his best to make me deeply ponder about things. He used examples of workers from the club and from his own experiences in life to teach me about the endless possibilities that there are for success. All I had to do was take personal responsibility for my own future and work hard towards my goals. I valued each one of the conversations we shared and took everything he said to heart. I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to work under a boss like him. His lessons have stuck with me since that summer and furthermore he is still a role model to me today. It is his contributions to my personality that have propelled me to be a determined worker for the rest of my life.


After such a large confidence boost in my ability to be independent, the following summer I decided to apply to be an exchange student. Remarkably, I was chosen as one of three students to represent my town, Midland, as a student ambassador in Handa, Japan. It was difficult to contain my excitement, but before I knew it, I was on a plane headed to the opposite side of the world.


I had done quite a bit of traveling since I was a young boy, but never had I been to a place like Japan. When I first arrived, the things I took notice of that were different from the United States were physical characteristics. Things such as the odd-looking cars, how close houses were built together, and the number of vending machines sprinkled about the city was quite fascinating to see. Though I saw a lot of new and different things, the most valuable thing I took home from Japan came during the second week of my stay.


My host family decided to take me to a neighboring town for a festival and then afterwards enjoy a meal cooked at my host father’s parents’ house. My host grandparents did not speak any English, but with the help of my host mother, we were able to make simple conversations. As we enjoyed a delicious traditional Japanese meal, my host father told everyone around the table about how him and I went to a town famous for its pottery shops earlier in the day. Unbeknownst to me, my host father mentioned that I was looking for some small dishes to bring back to my mother as a gift, but was unsuccessful in my search. Instantly, my two host grandparents got up from the table and started what appeared to be searching around the apartment for something. I asked my host mother what was going on, and all she could really say was that “they want to help.” “Help me with what?” I asked. But before she could reply, out emerged host grandma and host grandpa with boxes. For the next forty-five minutes, I sat there and received gift upon gift of tea sets, chopsticks, flags, handkerchiefs, and fans. I tried to tell them it was unnecessary, but my host mother said that they refused to let me leave their house without taking all these gifts. Eventually I decided that defeat was inevitable and graciously accepted their offerings. Soon enough dinner was over and we made our way back home.


That night, as I was sitting in my room and looking over what was given to me, I began to tear up. I would not say I’m an emotional person, but what had just happened was finally hitting home. This family just gave up a lot of personal belongings in order to make a strange boy from across the world happy. I’m sure they did not consider the monetary cost of what they had done, or the sentimental values of what they had given me. Instead, they were worried about my happiness. They were proud of their heritage and they wanted to give me a great impression of the Japanese people and their culture. On the verge of balling my eyes out, I made a promise to myself right then and there. I vowed that no matter where I am in life, I would try my best to not take things for granted and that when I can give, I would. Sadly, my trip to Japan didn’t last forever, but the memories of what I saw and the people I met will.


I am one of the luckiest people in the world and I’m only eighteen years old. These people, places, and experiences have become such an instrumental part of who I am today, and I’m proud to say so. These times of life lessons will never be forgotten. Whether I look at a picture of me fishing with my dad, an old golf ball, or a traditional Japanese tea set, my mind is sent back to those days and I can reflect upon what I’ve done. My name is Keenan Hammer, and I’m still ready to experience more.