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Obviously, this is from the 1970’s. Note my father in the snazzy turtleneck. I really don’t know the full context of this photo, but let me tell you what my instinctual impression is. This is likely from Germany, I think. However, it easily could be from the Phillipines or the Azores, for that matter. Where it precisely is no matter to me, it’s the feeling I get from this picture that’s important. And to me, it says a lot about being an American overseas.

When you live in somebody else’s country, “community” takes on a whole new meaning and importance, one that I think is lost on some Stateside Americans. And it’s something that Stateside Americans have trouble with, in terms of trying to understand immigrant populations. When almost everything seems foreign to you, friendships take on a new, huge importance — in many instances, you have no choice but to band together, even if the only commonality you have with somebody is a shared citizenship. Thus, the simple act of going to somebody else’s home for coffee, dinner, or a glass of wine takes on a new importance, especially if you live off-base, amidst the locals. Sometimes, your fellow expatriate is the only comfort some can find in a country where you don’t know the language, the customs, or the proper protocols.


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