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PPWR Reflections 2017: Stepping Into a Community - Tone Delin Indrelid

12 May 2017 1:50 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

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(Tone with Sarah Black and Terry Anne Wilson)

Learn more about the FIGT community in this week's PPWR Reflection by Tone Delin Indrelid! 

Tone touches on a key point that resonates with many of us in the FIGT community. The fact that being an outsider is in fact a superpower in which you've been trained to recognize community or lack thereof. We have all been there - when you experience that incredible feeling meeting someone new, who you may have no commonalities with, other then being a TCK. And yet, your spirit sings with connection and recognition. Community is when you find yourself surrounded by strangers but feel at home. Thanks for the reminder Tone! 

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Community, as defined by Merriam Webster and by Naomi Hattaway in her Families in Global Transition (FIGT) webinar and Keynote speech, highlights commonality. Shared space, shared interests, attitudes and goals. Joint identity and ownership. A sense of belonging to a group of like-minded others.

Our sense of who we are, and which communities we belong to, is established through interaction with others over time.

Living in one place for a long time, people ‘know’ you; if not personally, then they might know someone else who does. My parents, who have lived in the same house since 1972, may not know everyone in their social world, but people can ask “who is that funny old man in number 32?” and someone will have an answer.

When you move, people don’t know you. When I arrive at a new school with my kids every four years, people may ask “who is that harassed looking woman?” but nobody will be able to answer.

Everyone who has moved a lot knows that having to find your people and build your communities from scratch is hard. We have no shared social history, nothing to build on. The only way you can establish ties to others is to give of yourself, interact, search. Reach out to those you hope might share your attitudes and interests. Through social interaction over time, you become someone, a member of social communities.

One of my strongest first impressions of FIGT is how established, and celebrated, the community is. How first timers are included so immediately, by virtue of their presence.

We may not share a social history. People at FIGT didn’t know I’d lived in Damascus, that I love hiking or that I teach an English class. They may not be able to answer ‘who is she?’ but we already share a strong social connection. We already agree on a set of values, attitudes and interests. Simply by being there, I was counted as part of the community.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t make an effort to reach out, try and connect with others. There is, however, a difference between working to strengthen ties and a sense of shared belonging that is already established, and searching for commonalities and building fresh ties from scratch.

Perhaps it takes wanderers, used to being the unknown, to truly recognize the importance of community. Perhaps it takes people who know what it means to feel like an outsider, to recognize how important it is to feel being together. Perhaps it takes people who have done it, again and again, to recognize that being part of a community is a conscious effort; essential to establish who you are in relation to others.

Thank you, FIGT, for discussing these topics and for the community you all help create and maintain. I am honored to be part of it. 

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Thank you Tone for your contributions to the FIGT community!

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