My Journey of Self-Discovery and Family Heritage

Author: Kamaal Thomas

Tags: USA

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I awoke from a long ride in the minivan with the family.  As I stepped out the van, I felt the crunch of the spring leaves under my feet with each step.  I caught a glimpse of the glistening leaves on the trees blocking the morning sun. I could smell the fresh scent of pine in the air and saw a playground with people, enjoying themselves on the teeter-totter and slides.  I strolled into the exquisite authentic clubhouse full of tall, friendly strangers.  As they walked around greeting each other I thought to myself, “I’ve never seen this many African Americans before in one facility.” I walked outside to get a breath of the fresh air, and thanked the Lord for safe travel to our annual Adams’ Family Reunion.  The Adams’ are on my mother’s side of the family.

It was June 27, 2007, the week before Independence Day.  I had just gotten out of school the previous week. My older brother Khalfani, younger sister Kiera, parents and I traveled to Virginia by airplane. We arranged a vacation to my mother’s family reunion. That morning we packed our bags, grabbed my lucky African marble egg that I always travel with, and by ten o’clock, we were on our way.  From Fontana, California (www.fontana.org), my home, to Norfolk, Virginia we flew. After arriving at the NorfolkAirport(www.norfolkairport.com), we got a rental, a white Chrysler Town & Country minivan, and drove 40 minutes to Williamsburg, Virginia (www.visitwilliamsburg.com).

In Virginia, there were many activities to do with my family. We visited the historic Jamestown (www.jamestown1607.org), toured the Berkeley Plantation (www.berkeleyplantation.com), to get a greater understanding of life in the early 1600s. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and ocean breeze at Virginia Beach (www.vabeach.com). We also visited BuschGardensAmusement Park (www.buschgardenswilliamsburg.com) and enjoyed the thrill of all the rollercoasters and shows.

One of the most intriguing places I visited was HamptonUniversity (www.hamptonu.edu).  Hampton is a Historically Black University (www.hbcuconnect.com). I discovered this was the I want to attend for my undergraduate education. We stopped by a number of prominent buildings and facilities when touring the campus. First, we visited the HamptonUniversityMuseum (www.museum.hamptonu.edu), which mainly contained African artifacts and portraits. 

I read their mission statement, which said “Our primary mission has remained unchanged: to provide knowledge and understanding of, and respect for, diverse cultures and traditions. Est. 1868.” When I read this, I got a deeper understanding of my origin and became more interested in the nature of the world. Looking around in that museum, I saw ancient sculptures and drawings.  While looking at the peaceful scenery, such as the lake and grassy areas, I felt as though I belonged there. I saw everything with beauty and preciousness. That second I decided that I would come back again not as a tourist, but as a student so I could get the real feel for tranquil nature of this school.

            To end this vacation, on July 4th, Independence Day, the extended family met one more time. We played cards, horseshoes and relaxed. Of course, our parents joined together and gloated about all the kids’ achievements. The elders called over the “youngins” and told us old stories of how it was “back in the day.” To finish off this perfect vacation, we hopped in the car went on the freeway to see the annual Fireworks Spectacular at BuschGardens. As everyone enjoyed the fireworks show, I prayed one more time and thanked God for the experience full of insight and family unity!