A Living Collection of Personal Immigration Stories

Thirty years ago, my parents and two older brothers moved from New Zealand to the San Francisco Bay Area, leaving most of their family and friends behind in favor of new opportunities abroad. A few years later, after I was born, we settled in Southern California.

Now, as a media engagement strategist at Active Voice, I am delighted to be working with a new project called Immigrant Nation (iNation for short). Created by filmmakers Theo Rigby (Sin País) and Kate McLean, iNation creates a space for people to tell their family’s immigration stories online, in an innovative and interactive way.

A hybrid of documentary film, user-generated storytelling, and social mapping, iNation allows users to create, share, and watch personal immigration stories. It is a living collection. If you have a moment, watch my story here.

As I head to Miami for NIIC 2013 to join hundreds of immigrant integration advocates and practitioners, I imagine many other attendees might have a similar story to mine.

This is why Active Voice has partnered with the iNation team to set up a kiosk at NIIC, where anyone can share their personal stories of immigration. If conference-goers come prepared with photos (hard copies or images saved on phone, laptop or tablet), we will provide people with the tools to bring their own families’ stories to life. Once the stories are uploaded, participants can see how their stories interact with the timelines, countries and memories of other conference-goers.

The beta version of the platform is also accessible online, so people from all over the country can add their stories at any time: https://beta.immigrant-nation.com/.

At the heart of the iNation project is a simple premise: most people in the U.S. have an immigrant or migrant story to share, whether it’s their own – such as Lucia’s from Omaha – or the story of a relative in the past – such as Peter’s from San Francisco.

The topic of immigration sometimes divides communities across the country, but bringing personal stories to the surface has the potential to create commonality between new arrivals and those whose families have lived in the U.S. for generations. I encourage everyone to check it out, and consider ways this innovative tool can spark dialogue and understanding among colleagues, communities and even one’s own family. It’s a chance to reflect on how your background has shaped you, and how you are shaping this country.

Share your family’s immigration story:
Twitter: @iNationProject
Tag: #NIIC #activevoice #[yourorganizationname] #[yourstate]  #[countries you’re connected to] Read my story: https://www.immigrant-nation.com/story/the-wongs-1606

Our NIIC picks:
•    Documented film screening
•    The Role of Welcoming Schools

Written by Program & Communications Coordinator Nicole Wong

This post was originally published on November 17, 2013 on the National Immigrant Integration Conference Blog.