Whenever a new year starts, it's common to look back at the previous year and reflect on what you may have learnt and achieved. With an ambitious and long-standing project like 177 Nations of Tasmania, it is really useful to be able to take the opportunity to review and take stock. It's not just about reflecting on the past though, it's also about planning for the future , as you need to know the road you've come on to work out the best path ahead.
Let's start with some of the facts and figures from 2023.
I published 23 new episodes, reaching 97 in total, which honestly I feel a little bit disappointed by. I'd hoped for more than 2 a month, but it has got harder to find people, not easier, so perhaps my expectations were too high ? I found 22 new nationalities, as I made a rare exception in interviewing a Ukrainian who had settled with her family in Tasmania because of the war. I thought that I couldn't ignore such a significant event as the Russia-Ukrainian war, that as caused the movement of so many people from their homeland in a very short space of time.
The podcast has had a very European flavour in 2023, starting with Serbia and North Macedonia, then Germany, Ireland, Italy, Ukraine, Cyprus, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Scotland and Latvia. It was gratifying to get people from a range of ages too, reflecting the changing history and migration patterns from that part of the world. For example, the Latvian lady and the German man recounted memories as children during WW2 and the experiences of being in refugee camps in that era. It was also interesting to talk to younger arrivals from Cyprus and North Macedonia, whose ideas are very different from the earlier generations of migrants from these lands.
War was also quite an important theme in many of the interviews I did, in some cases as a direct cause for leaving their home country, while in others it was part of their childhood experience and memories. For me it was very much an illustration of how personal stories can really illuminate the impact or war and conflict and how it such an historical driver of migration. What was also interesting was the breadth of conflicts over time and space, from Eastern Europe in WW2, to civil wars in Syria, Lebanon or the Sudan, or the barbaric ethnic cleansings/genocides in Rwanda and Myanmar. In almost all these cases, these experiences of war and refugee camps were as children and it is perhaps a reminder that the experience of fleeing your home because of war are near universal, regardless of whether it was in Latvia in the 1940s or Myanmar in the 2000s. I hope that the stories of older former refugees, who have ended up living very sucessful lives and becoming integrated in the community while still maintaining a core of their cultural identity, can be an inspiration for the younger ones who are just at the beginning of their journey in Australia.
But what of the future ?
My first goal is to reach 100 nationalities, which is very close now and I'm thinking that after 3 1/2 years, that may be a good time to wrap things up, at least in an active sense. If people approach me from a country I haven't covered with a great story, of course, I will still interview them and publish the episode, but I think I will stop actively pursuing the goal of 177 nationalities. At the rate I've been going, it'll take many more years to achieve and it is a lot of time and effort to do. Even though I do very much enjoy doing the podcast, there comes a time when we have to move on to other things and also worry about boring things like earning a living. If I could earn a living from doing this podcast, I would absolutely keep going ! Unfortunately, I think it's really just the kind of project which will always just be a passion project.
That being said, although I'm planning to wind back doing more episodes, I do hope to try and get the episodes I've already done a bit more airplay and share them with more people.
Just to finish, I want to put my list of nationalities I still haven't done, in case there are people who still want to tell me their stories ! Please feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Isle of Man
Trinidad and Tobago