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#216 Being heard (and a public service announcement)

February 25, 2014

It may not be obvious to the casual observer of today’s Expat Aid Workers, but despite all the cynicism, overt attempts to demonstrate how out of touch with popular culture they are, and silverbacks who wantonly and shamelessly destroy the idealism of the newbs, at the end of the day, many battered EAWs simply want to be heard.

Let’s get something straight: No one can understand us. We’re much too enigmatic for that. No one but us will ever truly get what we’ve been through, or the sacrifices we’ve made to be here (“here” = at the house party, driver waiting outside…)

10-Speaking-OutBut then, after years of trying in many and various ways to “be one with the people”, it’s hard to know who we even are in the first place. And doesn’t it make sense, in the context of a global, 10s-of-billions-of-USD per year industry, allegedly tasked with making the world better, that maybe we should figure that out? Actors, singers, and college dropouts alike all think they can do our jobs better than us. They think they can show up in “the field” with some high-tech camping gear and be us. But then, who are we, exactly? Half the time we don’t even recognize (or pretend to not recognize) each other. Who are these Expat Aid Workers of whom everyone speaks? And when was the last time someone actually asked you?

Your years of waiting are finally over.

Public Service Announcement: Co-founder/blogger of Stuff Expat Aid Workers like, J., has teamed up with some super smart academic dude from Elon University, to actually study us, in order to answer this vexing question. Who are we? This is a serious academic research project, and a serious opportunity for you—all of you, expat, local, anyone and everyone in the aid industry (we’ll include dropouts, too) to be included.

It begins with a census-style survey, here. (yes, we know, you’re very busy. It takes about half an hour to complete, depending on how long you agonize over the open-ended questions. Just do it. Brag about it, or bring the righteous indignation, on Facebook later).

There’s also a blog hosted by Elon University, where J. and the academic dude will post regular updates, give you all the chance to participate in mini-polls, give long-winded feedback, and more.

Click through the survey. Check out the blog. This is your chance to be heard!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    February 25, 2014 9:45 am

    Whoever aid workers are, they appear too busy to copy edit. Your survey is fantastic, I mean that, and I look forward to results, but please, learn how to use an apostrophe. Or find someone who does before you go live.

    For example: can you find the errors?

    44. Many (most?) humanitarian aid worker’s will ultimately become ex-humanitarian aid worker’s. Excluding those few -but tragic- that will die in service, which below do you think is the *most* common reason why humanitarian aid workers choose to leave this line of work?

    • February 25, 2014 9:48 am

      You’ve been heard… :)

      • February 25, 2014 1:21 pm

        4. With which gender do you identify?

        Oh yeah, I’m an Oher,


  2. February 25, 2014 1:34 pm

    i really want to take this, or at least look at the questions, but i’m a research consultant for int’l aid orgs/NGOs. do i have a place here? i want to be heard!! i have opinions too! i have so much guilt!

    • February 25, 2014 6:56 pm

      Please take the survey!

  3. Eugenia permalink
    February 28, 2014 5:54 am

    Hi – just a suggestion but if you want a diverse pool of respondents – make this available in multiple languages :)

  4. March 7, 2014 10:07 am

    Interesting.. you care if people are from the Caucus Mountains or not. Worried we’re Georgian separatists?

  5. andy permalink
    March 19, 2014 6:18 pm

    Took the survey. I second the posting concerning languages to get a more diverse result.
    Thanks for hearing us.


  1. Speak Your Mind | AidSpeak

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