“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I learned the meaning of community by leaving home.

When I was fifteen, my family moved halfway across the world – from Illinois to Singapore – where I enrolled in an American school.

I had been uprooted from everything familiar – the park where I played football, my favorite pizza place Lou’s, and my friends. The transience of the expat experience tempted me to cling to what I left behind or simply shut my eyes until it was over.

Yet, in a new school so far from home, my classmates and I found common understanding through our upheaval. In the cafeteria, we bonded over the simple snacks from home that we missed. In the school courtyard, we debated what it meant to be an American abroad. Those little conversations led to lasting friendships that anchored my formative years in Singapore.

With each new chapter of my life, I've sought to create common spaces for simple interactions. These moments reveal shared values and build community. Whether investing in my corner of campus or exploring a new neighborhood, I realize it is the communities we create that define our experiences and give our aspirations meaning.    

Life will surely send me to unexpected places, but I will create a sense of community – wherever I go.

— Kunal Modi