By Ha Ta

“The best part of living in Mission Hill?” Arafat Akbar asked himself aloud. “Truthfully, the view.”

Arafat Akbar was raised as a Roxbury kid. He recently moved to Mission Hill while looking for a job. What he likes about the area, beside the landscape, is the sense of community at the top of the Hill.

“The biggest challenge is also [Mission Hill’s] biggest opportunity,” Akbar said. “How do you bring together old and new in the way that works for everyone.”

Akbar admits that gentrification is real. While it benefits some, it also disfranchises others. Overall, however, he remains hopeful for change. He sees an opportunity for the community to improve by ensuring when new cultures move in, they mesh with the existing culture.

“I’m not God, so I sort of hang in the balance. My role is to be the best person I can be, and hopefully, while people are fighting and going head-to-head, to remind everyone that there’s something in the center that we can all come back to. So change is not always bad, right?”

Considering himself first as a “model citizen,” Akbar said he has a lot of connections with the Roxbury community and his role is “to first smile at people when I see them, to be kind, to help and do my invisible things that impact the community.”

When asked about his most vivid memory in Mission Hill, Akbar hesitated a bit before restating his enthusiasm for the scenery.

“I keep going back to the thing – that view at the park up there is amazing, isn’t it? I love the idea of being on land, but being as high as possible. Still on land. Something about that… that’s all I can say.”

About this project 

The Scope’s student journalists spoke with community members in Mission Hill. #MissionHill100 is a collection of their stories. 

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