We love to discover and share stories from expats, expats-turned-immigrants, adult TCKs, or who those have repatriated. For the most part, this involves exploring stories from the past and bringing these often forgotten voices back to life.
But did you know that we have a project that documents digital expat lives as they are right now? In 2016 we created @WeAreXpats, a rotation curation Twitter account. Each week, a different person can take the wheel and guide our thriving online community through their life abroad. Our curators can be of any nationality and can live in any country of the world. We aim to celebrate the diversity that is sometimes overlooked in expat communities and to offer our curators a space online to tell interesting, honest, and, above all, personal accounts of their lives abroad.
A rotation curation Twitter account is a concept originally launched by @Sweden – a project begun in 2011 that strove to tell the stories of the Swedish people by rotating the account to a different Swede each week. This account inspired many other countries and cities to try something similar. However, @WeAreXpats concentrates not on a single place but on a mind set or way of living: that of life as an expat, no matter where our curators are currently based or where they consider ‘home’ to be.
@WeAreXpats is the documentation of a range of expat experiences in real-time. Our definition of expat is anyone who lives temporarily in a country other than their ‘home’ country, regardless of the reason. All metadata from the account’s tweets are archived at our office and preserved for future research. Indeed, academic works have already been produced by university students, who have used @WeAreXpats to explore topics as diverse as romantic relationships in WWII, the tradition of the Krampus in Austria, and how to raise Third Culture Kids in today’s world.
We accept curators from any place, but in 2020 we hope to amplify experiences from the global south, whether as an origin or destination. Tweets must mainly be written in English as this is the working language of the archive, but any additional words and phrases in other languages are encouraged!
As a curator, you get several things from joining the @WeAreXpats community. First and foremost, becoming a curator allows you to connect with a new and active online audience about what matters to you. But it also allows you to take part in a long-term social-academic experiment and to have your tweets recorded for posterity – and potentially, as seen above, used in academic research. The preservation of online writing and other forms of communication is of increasing importance to archives all over the world. As all communities create new ways to communicate and express themselves, expats have been central to this. They adopt new and changing media to keep in touch with loved ones back home, to connect with friends in new places, and to make their voices heard around the world.
So, what are you waiting for? If you have a Twitter account, we’d love you to sign up today! Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For full information on conduct, timings, and other details, please click through to our dedicated @WeAreXpats project website.