Cajon High School

Age of perception

After living in San Bernardino for 17 years, I must admit, not everything is great. Things could obviously be better, but doesn’t that go for every city.

San Bernardino is looked at as poor, violent, filled with people who simply don’t care about their own community. However, that only relates to someone who lives on the outside and decides to look in.

San Bernardino is a complex web of things, but to say that this city is characterized by only the bad things is just cruel and uncalled for.

Through the past few weeks of conducting interviews with people who had lived in San Bernardino for most or all of their life, I’ve learned about the different things that make San Bernardino beautiful and almost antique. There are so many things that people seem to skip that really make San Bernardino unique, the same goes to people that live here too.

To fully understand how people feel about their city, in depth, I took different age groups and asked them a series of different questions. The first age group I chose to ask ranged between 14 and 18, and their answers left me speechless, wanting to hear more about their lives and how San Bernardino shaped them.

My first question was, what’s the best quality of San Bernardino in your eyes? One of my interviewees, Valerie Alfaro, 17, said, “The people. The friends I’ve made here in high school, and the people I associate myself with who live in San Bernardino. So far the people I’ve associated myself with are nice to me.”

I proceeded to ask, what do you feel is your best experience living in San Bernardino? Valerie answered, “It’s closed down now, but the Carousel Mall used to be a place me and my family would go to when we wanted to hang out and that was our favorite thing to do.”

Last question: living in San Bernardino, in your best words, explain what you see, day by day?

“It’s definitely diverse, and I like that. You get to experience a lot of things when it’s not just tied to one particular thing and that has to be the best thing. You don’t see out of place. Living here makes you who you are and that’s good because not everyone can say their city changed them.”

In a city full of things that aren’t always great because you have to admit, San Bernardino is far from being great but there are definitely a hand full of things that make this city special and unique. It all depends on one’s perception of what they choose to see and what’s really there.

A couple of weeks ago on a rainy day, I drove up little mountain hill and parked to see the overview of the city. From where I was, you could see one side of the city from the north and the other from the south, and what I saw left me feeling solace. With the violence and poverty that we sometimes endure, everything is still beautiful and almost untouched. It’s breath taking to see a city full of life and perseverance. It takes only one person to truly perceive the city for how it is and spread the word to give San Bernardino the story it deserves.