You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.
When I got a moment away from the microphone after a particularly busy show, I took stock of the wealth of information that had been just been submitted to AFN Wiesbaden by the community and I had a thought; this amazing community that I have become a part of, with its fantastic people, is much like a family.
Like any family, we all have an Aunt Iris or Uncle Pete who we must tolerate at social gatherings and holidays. But there are also others in the family that we gravitate toward and share our lives with.
A friend of mine is leaving Wiesbaden in a few weeks and moving back to the U.S. You can literally see the grief on her face whenever she talks about going back “home” because for her, this is home. She has made many friends, many memories and truly gotten the most out of her time here in Germany. She fully experienced the closeness of this expatriate family.
Her experience made me think about all the things here that contribute to creating a sense of community and family in Wiesbaden. From events such as the USO’s Sun and Fun day to online forums for pet owners and spouses to the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony — they all help build community.
The closeness of the community also means that though Aunt Iris and Uncle Pete are not people you may choose to spend the most time with, you are inclined to respect and accept them. It’s the same with your neighbor, the people in your unit, or even your boss — you can’t pick them but they are part of your family.
There is something about being a part of an ever-changing English-speaking community in a foreign country that speeds up the “getting to know you” period and to seek out the good in people. In past communities I have lived in I haven’t always had the capacity to see the best in everyone, but it is different here in Wiesbaden.
The perpetual transition that binds us together will ultimately pull us apart and like summers, people, including Aunt Iris and Uncle Pete, will come and go. Maybe there is something to be learned or gained from them before they leave. They are all part of your ever-changing family.
For those of you that I have met, thank you for being a part of my wonderful experience of this community. For those of you who are new then whether it is organized by Army Community Service, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the USO, the Red Cross, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers or any other of our great organizations — I look forward to meeting you there and welcome to the family. Yes, even you, Uncle Pete and Aunt Iris.
You can hear more from Paul “The Brit” on AFN Wiesbaden, weekday mornings from 6-10 a.m. on 98.7 FM. Follow him on Twitter @TheBritAFN.