Stakes [Pull Up / Put Down]
Most people never or very rarely travel far from home, other than for a vacation. (And for many, not even for that.) Fewer people still move far from home.
Of the people who move from their places of origin, the miniscule minority do so simply to experience living in another place. For most people who move from their native countries, external motivators compel them to shift locations, including the pursuit of educational and career opportunities, the need to escape issues at home, and to follow family.
Some of the people who move from their places of origin select their destination geography—yet most of the people who relocate do not have much choice. When people do have choices, many people prefer to make the minimum viable geographical and cultural relocations possible to achieve their objectives. The reasons for staying within reach of home have myriad sources as well, including the lower costs involved and the instinct to stay within comfort zones.
In English, we have numerous names for these people: The most common terms include “expat,” “refugee,” and “immigrant.” Other, more fashionable terms include “digital nomad,” “location-independent,” and beyond.
Through a series of articles, photographs, videos, and audio statements, I want to explore the themes outlined above, particularly among people who have moved far from their places of origin—people who have relocated more than one border away from their home countries and who currently live far from their homelands. (By “border,” I mean country, state, or regional boundary.)
In this project, I want to understand why people move from their places of origin. I want to understand how these moves change their definitions of home. I want to understand how people who move far from their original homes define themselves—whether by country of origin, nationality, current country, ethnicity, or something else—and why. Further, I want to understand the experience of moving far from home, including the biggest surprises, the biggest self-discoveries, and the biggest realizations about this world we all share.
Catalyst & Context
I have lived abroad twice now, in countries more than one border away from my home country and for longer than a year at a stretch. Every time I move, I meet other people who have moved away from their countries of origin, whether because we all happen to attend the same functions and go to the same places to try to acclimate, or whether because a gravitational pull exists between people going through similar experiences.
As I’ve met other people who have moved far from home, I’ve had no end of interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking conversations. Everyone with whom I’ve spoken has significant differences from the others I’ve encountered, yet they all have similarities as well, and across all kinds of circumstances.
These people have shared insights and sparked thinking that have captured my imagination and deepened my curiosity about the world and the humans within it. These questions deserve further exploration and examination. And their responses deserve sharing with a broader audience than just me.
At the start of this project, I plan to interview people who fit the above parameters on a one-on-one basis.
I will include their interviews on this site. Some of the interviews I may transcribe, others I may summarize with several direct quotations, and others I may bring to life through text with audio and video excerpts.
Some people will share their full names. Others will prefer to publicly reveal only a first name or a nickname. I’ll share publicly only the name they allow me to use here. However, in all cases, I will include their home countries, their current countries, and their truths.
process & form
Where this project will take me, I don’t yet know. As with many exploratory projects, I expect it to form its own journey.
As the project evolves, I’ll have many ways for people to help. As of this moment, I have only these requests:
Explore with me. Contribute your reactions to what I share. Ask your own questions and provide your own insights. Join in the dialogue as it emerges. Beauty comes through speaking with each other and doing our best to understand.
Share with me. If you have moved away from your country of origin and you would like to participate in this project, contact me.