It's always interesting to look back on what you've achieved during the year, and when I look at the gallery of photos of just some of the people I've interviewed throughout 2022, I am struck by what a diversity of interesting people who have given me a little window into their lives. It's been quite an eventful 2022 and I thought I'd share with you a bit of a review of the year as far as the 177 Nations of Tasmania podcast goes.
As of the writing of this blog entry, I am working in my 74th episode (Kyrgyzstan), which seems quite a lot until you realise that I'm not even halfway through all the nationalities in Tasmania ! But, as I keep telling people, it's not about the number, it's about the journey, the experience. So in this review I'd like to talk about the journey of 2022 and the interesting places it has taken me to. In early January 2022 I felt like I'd really hit a brick wall, things were just not happening at all and I was starting to lose motivation and energy to keep going. But in January there were a couple of real turning points that changed things pretty significantly.
First was a story on SBS News website, from an interview I'd done well before in early December 2021. I knew it had gone live when I started to get a tonne of emails from random people from around Australia.
Some messages were just wishing me good luck or telling me what a good idea it was, but there were quite a few leads to new nationalities, though ironically the majority were nationalities I'd already covered. However, there was a big boost in the number of listeners and followers and ultimately it started the ball rolling to finding a heap more nationalities and just generally getting the word out. This was followed by interviews with ABC Hobart and then ABC National, though these seemed to have little effect. Then there was a story in The Launceston Examiner and The Advocate and this helped me get in touch with a few more people from the north of the state. For a few months at the beginning of the year I was averaging 8-9 episodes a month, and so I thought at that rate I was easily going to make it to 100 episodes before the end of the year, probably even more. The momentum was there. But as I've learnt a few times, this momentum doesn't last, you hit brick walls, run up cul-de-sacs and go on wild goose chases. The second half of the year felt like a terrible failure after how the year began and has at times left me feeling a bit despondent and questioning whether I was the right person to be doing this.
Indeed, looking at the number of episodes I did over 2022, which was I think 32, it's a pretty disappointing number. But the year cannot be judged by just that number alone.
While I would have liked to have done a lot more episodes, the year has brought plenty of other achievements to be proud of and to make me feel that the project is worthwhile.
As mentioned, the listenership has gone up considerably, and though it's declined from the peaks earlier in the year, there seems to be now a steady core of loyal listeners. While the number of episodes hasn't met my expectations, 2022 has uncovered many unexpected and unusual nationalities that I hadn't expected to find in Tasmania. I had been struggling to find Pacific Islanders in particular, and it was a real delight to interview Loni, Manu and Mereani from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji respectively and hear about their experience of settling in Tasmania and how their island upbringing shaped their experiences.
It seemed to be a year for islands, as I did interviews with people from Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives and Madagascar, which are all exotic and picturesque tourist destinations, but it was fascinating to hear about everyday life for people living on these beautiful island countries and I definitely felt like there are a lot of commonalities between island cultures around the world.
The other ongoing pleasure of the project is having the opportunity to get to know some real nice and interesting people who I may never have met otherwise. It's not just been the geographical diversity that's been interesting, but also the diverse professions, backgrounds and reasons for settling in Tasmania that people have shared with me. For example, I interviewed Gediminas, a former professional footballer from Lithuania who came to play for Devonport City, or Denisse from Ecuador, a marine biologist who came to study her Ph.D after working on the Galapagos Islands. There was Rebeka and Peter, a couple from Slovenia, an opera singer and jeweller, Alusine, born in Sierra Leone, now running a barber shop in Hobart's CBD. And I could go on, it just goes to show what migrants can contribute to our community.
What's more, I've found people from nationalities I didn't think I'd find at all in Tasmania, they certainly weren't on the census list - Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Congo, Honduras
There have been other unexpected opportunities this year as a result of the podcast too. I've given talks for the Rotary Club Launceston and Tasmanian Leaders and these types of things are great for getting feedback and a feel for how the podcast concept is received. I've also been engaged to record interviews for the National Library of Australia's oral history collection, with the focus being on Fijian-Australians, and Tasmanians with Chinese and Scottish heritage. So far I've only done one interview, but January is looking promising for quite a few more. Certainly get in touch if you know anyone who fits into any of these categories - it's a pretty wide brief.
Fijian Australians | National Library of Australia (nla.gov.au) So what am I hoping for in 2023 ? Well, I think 2023 is going to be the year when I finally wrap the project up, once I reach 100 episodes. It just takes up too much time and work to justify continuing for years more, and 100 is a pretty good effort I think ! The next step then is to put them into some kind of collection, perhaps a multi-media book or an audio exhibition of some kind. I am not sure, but it's be nice to put it into some kind of physical form to round off the project. Of course, if someone offers me a pile of money to keep going to 177, then I would keep going, but it's hard to justify the sheer amount of time I pour into it otherwise.
I think also I'd like to find ways that I can use the knowledge and skills I have acquired durin the course of this project to help others. If I've learnt nothing else from this project, it's important to do things in your life that give it meaning, and that keeps me going. Happy New Year to all the supporters and listeners of 177 Nations of Tasmania podcast !!