It’s a Small, Small World

Posted: 15th March 2011 by admin in Uncategorized

In 1964, we moved to New York, in preparation for our even bigger move to Tokyo.  While there, we visited the World’s Fair.  It was here that the ride, “It’s A Small World” that now resides with Disney, made its debut.  I remember being mesmerized by all the singing puppets in their colorful costumes. 


Over the years I have had so many “small world” events that I wonder if that is a perk of being a TCK.  Do non-TCKs have the multitude of “small world” run-ins that we have?  Naturally when families in the TCK world move from place to place, there is bound to be some overlap.  I went to high school in Manila with a boy who had been in my 1st grade class at the American School in Japan.  There were at least two families that we had known in Tokyo that ended up in Brussels.  I ran into a classmate from Manila in college in Texas.  But some of the instances were a little more serendipitous.


In recent years I have become interested in genealogy.  While researching my mother’s family, I came across a book that was written by one of her distant cousins, detailing their heritage several generations in the past.  As I read, I came across a name that sounded vaguely familiar.  I read on, only to find out that he had been a long-time employee of my father’s company.  I called my mom to ask if she recognized the name, and she said, “Of course!  Your dad traveled with him a lot in Europe.”  I said, “Believe it or not, he was your second cousin!” 


As a child, my mom didn’t know her family, especially her father’s relatives.  She believes that her parents may have been divorced or separated at the time of her father’s death, so any links to his family were non-existent or tenuous.  What are the odds that her life would intersect so closely with one of her cousins?  She didn’t seem that impressed; she said she really didn’t like the guy at all.  It frustrated me that she didn’t marvel, as I did, at the coincidence.


When I was a senior in high school, my dad’s company closed its office in Manila and moved it to Singapore.  We had to move.  It was a huge trauma in my life; we had been in Manila for 3-1/2 years, and I had, for the first time, put down some roots.  Having earned enough credits to graduate, I received my diploma before we left.  However, my parents decided that I needed to go to school in Singapore anyway.  So I spent the spring semester attending classes at Singapore American School, with the expected lack of enthusiasm on my part.  Imagine my surprise on my first day of Math when I found that my teacher had been a teacher at the International School of Brussels!  He had been my sister’s high school math teacher, and his wife had taught in the elementary school there.  She wasn’t my actual teacher, but I did go to her class for reading. 


Early in my career as a paralegal, I worked for a large law firm in Baton Rouge.  I can’t remember how I found out, one of my 6th grade “best” friends worked at the day care where one of the attorneys’ children was enrolled. 


More recently I have had Facebook “small world” incidents, where my TCK life intersected with my current life.  One of my first “puppy love” boyfriends in high school (in the Philippines) was a young man from South Carolina.  When I “friended” my former Texas college roommate (who lives in South Carolina) on Facebook, a “mutual friend” popped up who happened to be that boyfriend’s sister.  My second son became a fan of an alternative rock group (whose name I can’t even write because this is a “family friendly” blog) whose lead singer went to college with me, and who dated this same roommate.  A former neighbor of mine in Mississippi was a relative of a staff member of the university here in North Carolina where I worked. 


This doesn’t take into account the many times my father ran into acquaintances in random airports around the world.  I’m sure it happens a lot, but it seems to me that it happens more often to TCK’s.  I’d love to hear about others’ experiences with this.  And I’m sorry if now you have this annoying song stuck in your head for the rest of the day …


It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears

It’s a world of hope and a world of fears.

There’s so much that we share

That it’s time we’re aware

It’s a small world after all …


There is just one moon and one golden sun

And a smile means friendship to everyone

Though the mountains divide

And the oceans are wide

It’s a small world after all … 

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Matthias,

    I’m glad seeing you here and voice out your need of doing the research on TCKs.  Well, hopefully that I know someone who did this similar project with yours.  I’ll keep you informed about that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Its funny how the world works like that doesn’t it?