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“I was born and raised in Kona, Hawaii. I graduated high school and college in Hawaii.

“When I was 21 years old, I could no longer afford to live in my own hometown — not unless I wanted to never travel or enjoy the beauty of Hawaii while I worked several jobs to make ends meet. I could not find a job that compensated me for my college degree. I would have to live with the parents forever — please, no.

“I had intended to use my degree so as one day be able to afford a car and a home of my own. But reluctantly I moved to the mainland, with the culture shock and all. I’ve lived in Arizona for 21 years now.

“I appreciate and miss the beauty and the diversity my home offers. I miss the richness of the dirt, flowers, fruits … everything! I yearn to be back, as it is my home. If I could afford paradise, and knew I could live without struggling to afford it, I would move back in a heartbeat. Hawaii will forever be my home. I pray one day I can return.”

Jena Orozco Dickson
Phoenix, Arizona