Expat strike me as a ridiculous term but its here to stay. Expats come in many sizes and shapes. Indeed they are an entire genus. One detailed look at expats suggests there is no strict definition as to what comprises an “Expat”. Just a day ago London’s Telegraph published a less than flattering look at Expats in Moscow.
Expatriates have been around a long time. As long as humans have been curious enough to wander beyond their “territory” to have a look at what was on the other size of the sea. The old Iberian explorers who sailed around the world only never to return were in a way expats. However, in more modern terminology expats comprise a wider set of people.
- Migrant worker
- Gastarbeiter (“guest worker”)
- the ever present professional class of wandering engineers, doctors, oil execs
But now in the last decades a new species as emerged. Its a dominant species which seems to be seeping into every dark forgotten corner of the globe. Its known as the ExpatAidworker. This species lives off short contracts, skype, coffee and an ongoing flow of black humour mixed with sprinkles of idealism. They are the currency of the aid community – despite the wave of powerpoints, plans, logframes, budget revisions of the aid community’s HQ culture its the creature known as the “ExpatAidworker” that actually turns grand ideas into middling successes or failures.
This species exhibits itself, largely at night, in airports, dimly lit compounds, or via tenuous 3G mobile connections. If you want a sneak preview into their work, lives and humour seek it out via the twitter hastag #stuffexpataidworkerslike: And via the new blog StuffExpatAidworkersLike.