Are You a Goldfish in a Bowl?: Being Connected to a Community

May 31, 2016

At the end of our recent Lip Sync Battle Party, our friend and DJ, informed me that there would be one more act. Huh? Typically being the one surprising and planning events, my organized mind was not prepared for this. What do you mean another act? That I didn’t know about? With no time to investigate what was happening, they asked us (me and two other Jens) to sit down and they rolled this video made by the Carol Morgan School expat community of days past.


At the time, I didn’t have the words. It’s quite possible that the words that follow still aren’t enough because – HOLY CRIKES – how do you envelop that much love into a 600 word count? Years and years of past CMS staff submitted their love in the form of lip sync talent. Many of them I knew – some life-changingly well – and others I had never known. They left before I got here, heck, maybe before I ever knew about here. And yet, through this video, I felt connected to them, bonded to people who would love a place – this place – as much as I do and who even after all of this time, in different schools around the world, would love it enough to be a part of this.

I had trouble watching the video through my blurred screen of tears. I was so excited at the sight of an old friend that I leapt out of my chair and broke it. And I physically, held on to my heart in fear that at any moment it would explode with happiness and gratitude. It isn’t everyday that people who plan things get planned for and it was not lost on me how much effort and time and love goes into every moment of making something like this.

But what moved me the most was not that it was presented with my name on it but that its reach spread out and blanketed a whole community and a good portion of the globe. The video made by 30+ people from at least 5 continents was made for far more eyes than the 30+ people on the rooftop that night. Its posting the next day on Facebook was an explosion of love,  touching all of us whom are lucky enough to wear the badge of CMS, and in its wake, we all understood on a very deep level, how fortunate we are to have had what we have.

A community is a beautiful thing, and for better or worse, a close knit one and being connected to a community is easily one of the most important aspects of living abroad. Absolutely there are times when you could feel like the proverbial goldfish in a bowl, large sets of eyes constantly watching you, but what if you choose to feel like those large sets of eyes are instead watching out for you, making sure you haven’t gone belly up. And, yes, it can also be hard getting thrown into a sea of people and being told to swim well together. Maybe I don’t like that Clown fish? Maybe I don’t want to live in that reef? Differences can be many, but in my experience, swimming in a school is more comforting than swimming alone. (Umm… hello? JAWS.)

The idea of being connected to a community clicked evermore deeply after this video. Across a globe and a decade of time, with people I’ve never met, I’m connected to a global community of people that travel oceans and discover countries. Goldfish, like me, with watchful eyes who see what I see here.

    1. It really is such an amazing community and you’ve been helping us grow 😉

    1. I only know a handful of them and I’ve gotten teary-eyed from watching the video. What a wonderful community!

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