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My name is Rachael Plitch and I am a 22 year old student attending Tufts University in Medford. I was raised in Newton, MA just outside of Boston in a small community called Newton Lower Falls. Both my older brother and I had the luxury of spending our childhoods in and among a close-knit group of families, most with children our own age. To this day I carry vivid images of playing homerun derby on our one way street yelling “Car!!” for the neighborhood kids with their backs turned and fond memories of the annual “Fall’s Ball” in June, which included bicycle decorating contests, a dunk tank and square dancing. To live twenty minutes from the heart of a vibrant urban center with public transportation leading to Harvard Square and Newbury street just a few blocks away, while also experiencing a quiet, suburban youth was a unique privilege.

After attending Newton public schools for many years, I decided to attend Noble and Greenough, a private institution for my high school education along with my brother. Once again, it was a strong sense of community at this school that played a large role in my personal and intellectual development. Most days I would be on campus from 7:30am until 9:00pm participating in various athletic and mostly musical activities. In all arenas from the classroom, to the soccer field, to the stage I found great mentors and friends among my teachers and advisors. After taking just a few introductory Spanish classes in middle school I had already developed a passion for the language. I continued with my studies of Spanish all four years of high school, and was interested in Tufts for (among many other reasons) its emphasis on foreign language development and a global outlook.

Upon visiting Tufts, I felt a strong sense of community among students, professors and staff and as attending the school would afford me the opportunity of remaining close to home and my family I knew that Tufts was the right fit. After three semesters in school I decided to take some time off to get out into the world and explore different career paths in order to better know what I wanted to pursue in my studies. Although I took leave from Tufts I chose to remain living in Somerville throughout the year and half hiatus from classes. It was important to me to stay within the community even though I was focusing on outside opportunities. I returned to Tufts with a renewed passion for languages, at which point I decided to begin taking Portuguese. I was also anxious to begin to study Anthropology as I had declared my major just before taking leave.

September first marked my four year anniversary as a resident of the Medford/Somerville area, and my third year residing in my current apartment. In starting my final academic year at Tufts I wanted to take an Anthropology course that would offer something beyond the classroom and provide a more ‘real world’ application of the knowledge base I had gained from the classroom. In addition, I wanted an opportunity to both explore and give back to the Somerville community that I have come to know and love as my own. Lastly, I view Urban Borderlands as a wonderful chance to practice my language skills and interact with native speakers to learn more about their cultures and their lives here as immigrants. As this will most likely be my last year living in Somerville, throughout the semester I hope to meet fellow community members, listen to and learn their stories and collaborate with these people to affect positive change before saying goodbye to the place I have come to know as home.