By Nicholas Botz

Prompt: Imagine that you’re in a job interview and your interviewer asks this question to gain more insight about you: “How has the place where you’ve grown up shaped who you are?” Answer this question in an essay. 

What makes Patagonia what it is makes me who I am. The landscape and the people together form one organism, one that took me in all those years ago and has carefully watched over my growth since. Patagonia is a town of mentors: teachers, instructors, coaches, all reaching out to show me the way like a blacksmith to his apprentice. It’s also a town of mountains, mesquites, and coyotes who sing their strange song, the notes carried by air clean enough to array the entire cosmos for just us and them to see.

The karate instructor who once taught me the four basic blocks has le in me a certain self-awareness that comes only from discovering all of your limits, then redefining them. Because of the English teacher who had me try out a poetry class, I’m not afraid to spill my thoughts onto paper. The musician who introduced me to a dozen instruments I’d never seen before helped me to discover my passion – and an art form through which I can express myself where words flounder.

The hills and arroyos that I explored in lazy grade-school afternoons, and which I came to know as intimately as my own room, will be there when the faces of Patagonia change. This town is natural beauty, a treasure too rare to lose. My love and fascination for the environment that exists here has taken me from plant nurseries to wildlife corridors to the thriving ecosystem that is my backyard.

Wasps patrol the air as green-and-white vans patrol the land. Trucks from the mine share the road with industrious ants as they return home from the day’s finds. Patagonia is a town of tradition and change, and growing up here has taught me to live in balance between the two.

Very soon I will leave this town, this organism that raised me and to which I owe my identity. I owe it to the trees that sheltered me to play a part in sheltering our planet. I owe it to the mentors who guided me to grow, to use what they taught me, and to teach it to someone else. I owe it to Patagonia to never forget this place, and how could I? After all, it’s part of me now.