What is community exactly and is it necessary for us to be a part of one, for us to thrive?
The dictionary defines community as:
‘a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
‘a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals’.
So much research has been done on community, what it means to individuals, how it affects our health. There is no surprise that active membership means you will live longer, are less likely to get sick, and will be better able to stave off mental illness and be more successful in life. The list goes on.
Moving to a new country one of the first things you have to do is ‘find your tribe’. It really is about survival. Living in a new country is one of the most isolating things you can do. Far from all that is familiar and your usual support mechanisms, you are thrown curve balls every day. When you meet a friend you can rely on, you realise you are not in this alone, that there is someone else who gets it and that when you need it, you will be supported.
People question if being active in a community is necessary. Personally I do think it is important to give back to the area where you live. I believe in making a conscious effort to be a part of the social community by being friendly, helpful and kind. I also believe in servitude. However sometimes that is really hard to do too in a new country.
We can be members of multiple communities too, which is great. However when you are the spouse unable to ‘work’, and socially isolated due to distance, travel and transport issues, then that can become a bit tricky to navigate as well. The online world is a tremendous support, especially as a newbie trying to find out where to buy Vegemite from. However I have also seen the shadow side of this with cyber bullying.
What has made me stand and hold my head up high as a ‘member’ of this community here, is a situation last week. A woman had a traumatic birth and within minutes news had spread across every sphere. Those of us who could, needed to give blood. As with all developing nations there were administrative challenges for us to do this, however we got it done. Regardless of if we knew her or not. A life was saved.
During that time of giving blood (four and a half hours – no I’m not kidding), I saw people come together. Strangers exchanged names. We talked, laughed, shared biscuits and supported each other on this journey. When it was over we parted ways, knowing in this small world of ours, we were somehow bound to meet again.
The following morning we all got notified that thanks to the amazing community efforts, our woman was saved. We were thrilled. I spent the following days feeling really proud, and really humbled that I get to be a part of this world, as did hundreds of other expats here, as we shared our joy on social media. I am part of a world where when it matters we all come together as one. Regardless of background, job, colour or status. All of that just dissolves as we work together as a real community to save one of our own. I felt alive in those moments of realization.
So, did I manage to give blood after four and a half hours? Ummm….no. My vein collapsed. But hey, I gave it my best!