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#224 Deep Field

January 26, 2021
“The field” or possibly “HQ” (Inconclusive) — photo by author

For as long as there have been Expat Aid Workers (EAWs), they have understood and expressed their own relevance in terms of location. It’s not about what you do; it’s all about where you do it. And before you get all indignant in the comments thread, think about how much meaning EAW derive from Bitching About HQ, Establishing Field Cred, or Blogging for the Folks Back Home, and how dependent all of those things are on distinctions between the field and, well, everywhere else.

But now that has-been celebs can start their own NGOs and random dudes can ride their motorcycles around Africa, the designation of the field has begun to lose its illusive luster. Now that you can get a Starbuck’s latte in Hanoi or Baku (fun fact: Starbuck’s is in more countries than IRC) the where of what we do as a defining element is now a matter of consternation, an issue in need of clarification.

Thanks in large part to EAW innovation and resilience, we have a new designation for those hardcore badasses who are really doing it: Deep Field. The basic formula is as follows:

  • Nice places: HQ.
  • Places not nice enough to be HQ: The field
  • Really, really bad places: Deep field.

While of course the inter-agency standards for what counts as field versus deep field are still a matter of fierce debate (and lots of poseurs in places like Nairobi or Beirut try to front on social media like they’re in deep field), it usually comes down to things like Internet stability, weekend party options, or cheese in local supermarkets.

If you can read this, you’re not in deep field.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Guillaume permalink
    January 26, 2021 1:08 pm

    I think I was once in that very place in Mozambique and, if memory serves, it was not located in the deep field at all.


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