I feel as if a military kid is blessed with having a tight community when moving to a base. Within an installation there are a vast range of people who understand the situation you are in when you first move there. The community is tight enough where you can ask anyone for a cup of sugar, and they will happily give it to you. But what happens when that sense of community is lost?
I moved to Singapore in July 2020 for my Junior year of high school. I’m an Army brat and Singapore only has a Naval base. I am the only Army kid in my school right now. How did I get here? My dad was a fellow at a university here. There are friendly people in my neighborhood but the area is not a tight community. Maybe it was because of COVID-19 but I’m not sure.
The school here only has a handful of military kids, primarily Navy and embassy. The thing is that it is hard to tell who’s who because of the uniforms. We look like regular kids here, and being unable to find each other kind of sucks. We are scattered about.
I have wandered around the school, not being able to find anyone who had any association with military life at all. I searched but could not find anyone. For a bit I forgot about it because of the amount of stress this school was giving me and the fact that I had no friends. People told me that there were others like me but I was starting to think they were wrong.
However, even though you feel as if you are alone, you tend to find each other somehow. I found everyone in a very normal way. I was taking a Chinese Novice class because the school wouldn’t accept my foreign language credits from my previous school. The class was filled with primarily freshmen, but a few of us were older. One day, we were talking about what our parents do for a living and I said that my dad is in the Army, Go Army. And that is when I found all the Navy kids. We definitely did not have a full argument about who is better. (Just saying Army won).
Anyways, we found each other in some of the weirdest ways. Here we aren’t supposed to be very open about talking if we are affiliated with the military or not. Singapore is a neutral country with some people who aren’t very friendly towards us. So to be able to find other military kids was relieving and almost felt like a miracle.
Finding people with similar experiences helps you integrate into another community easier. I was able to find people with similar experiences and made me feel like I belong. These similar experiences helped us understand that our struggles are understood and shared amongst the small community.
At the last minute, I decided to do something about it. Currently, as I am writing this I am working on a project to create a support network of DoD students and teachers who were once in or have family in the military. It is a slow process, but luckily I was able to get it going quickly. It has not been launched yet but it is picking up quickly. I have students and teachers here helping me out as I try to get it going before I leave this summer.
Not all places will have a tight community and not everyone will have the same experiences. Some people will have restrictions on what they can say and do. Understand that military and embassy kids are everywhere, and when you feel as if the community is lost, try to build it. Whether it is in school or in a neighborhood, try to make that community tighter. You never know the impact you will have on people in helping them connect with others like them.