Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

The Magazine Of Queen's University

Search form

The last word: Home away from home

The last word: Home away from home

[photo of brightly coloured houses with clotheslines in Venice]
Tommy Hana

Every year, the Queen's University International Centre holds a photo contest for students at Queen's, both Canadian students studying abroad and international students studying in Kingston. Tommy Hana's photo, "Mother knows best,' won first place this year in the "Home away from home" category.


I grew up quite poor and did not have certain luxuries that others I knew classified as essential objects, such as a clothing dryer. In the summers, my mother would put up a twine line in our back garden and hang our clothing up with wooden pegs. I would remember running through the hanging laundry and getting tangled in the bright white sheets. As I grew older our lives changed and my family finally bought a clothes dryer. Yet, my mother still insisted on hanging the laundry in the backyard. I never understood her intentions. Maybe it was a habit, maybe it was to save money on electricity. Last summer I lived in Switzerland, far from home. I had not seen my mother in months, yet on a weekend trip to Venice, I knew she was not very far. That summer, my life was lush, but as soon as my eye caught the laundry drying on a line, I remembered the humble and colourful roots from which I arose. My mother's traditions were alive and well, even halfway across the world.

Mother knows best.

Tommy Hana, Artsci'17, is now studying medicine at the University of Toronto.

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 4-2017]