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The challenges of trying to tell diverse migrant stories

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

After something of a flurry of activity for my 177 Nations of Tasmana podcast, I thought I'd write a few thoughts on the challenges of creating stories out of the interviews I've been doing.

As you do more patterns and common themes develop that guide both my questioning and the final narrative. Many migrants faces the same kinds of struggles, though with individual differences. However, there are some vast differences as well between the types of migrants that come to settle here, and it has meant that I cannot use a "one size fits all" kind of formula for all the episodes.

For some, there is a real story of overcoming significant obstacles and challenges, both in terms of language and culture. Some have also had to flee dangerous situations or persecution to be here. However, there are others, say from the USA or New Zealand or other First World countries, who have come for very different reasons and have settled relatively easily. In that case, how do you find an interesting story out of their experiences ? Of course, you have to change your questions quite a bit and probe for new different angles.

In one case, with Claudia from Switzerland, there was a fantastic story of how she met her husband-to-be in a kind of holiday romance. Despite coming from a very advanced country, her qualifications were not recognised here and she had to reinvent herself - a universal theme for migrants really.

What's nice about trying to do so many different nationalities is that there are both similar and very different experiences which challenge the story teller. Even the most ordinary seeming stories can often tell us something, whether it's a new insight into the place where all live or a snapshot for our community history books.

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