This monday morning on a lecture, the professor gave us a big sheet of paper and ask us to draw, representing "home". This was an exercise that was supposed to made us think about place and place making from a cultural point of view.
She told us we could choose words as well, but only three. Quite a task for a monday morning!
The results were surprising. As a heterogeneus group - with members from England, Wales, France, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil - it was quite interesting to see that "home" can have so many different dimensions and meanings. "Home" can be defined by emotional images of place - many of us represented family, or exaggerated certain physical features that relate to emotional responses they trigger in us. When I looked at my drawing (which was almost impossible to understand because I am an awful drawer, btw) I understood that the great part of my picture represented outdoors: the mountain (with a castle on top - with a portuguese flag, of course); the sea; trees and Lisbon city night - with popular saints decorations, tables outside, and the clothes hanging from the houses' windows. One of the most interesting things about this exercise, is that I found myself drawing the things I miss the most about home: the freedom of being outside by the sea in open spaces, with friends and family, sharing a meal and enjoying outdoors. That is why I chose the words: roots, together and outdoors. This made me think that the way we experience places (even in our imagination) is also shaped by our previous and present experiences. I am pretty sure that if I did this exercise while I was at home, I would have selected different aspects. This is one of the other reasons I believe escaping out of our confort zone is so important for our development. In fact, if you stay apart from a place - whether physical, emotional, professional - you will find it different when you return. You will discover new value in it. So, this exercise reminded me of the things I miss the most, but also created in me a renovated hope: that when I return, I will experience home in many other dimensions.