Migration is widely controversial. Traveling is widely popular. Both entail crossing borders to pursue a better life. Being a melting pot of cultures and the world's most popular travel destination, with a half a billion visitors annually, Europe has an increasing fear of foreigners that has led to more and more migrant-hostile legislation with more than E90 million granted to FRONTEX to block migrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Travelers are associated with wealth and status although mass tourism has a downside that manifests itself in rising food and property prices, increasing competition from international hotels and restaurants, and the threat that sex tourism poses to local communities. Meanwhile, hard-working migrants who try to integrate and contribute to their new homes are portrayed negatively as the ones who import poverty, crime, and terrorism.
These unfair double standards made 29-year-old Ingi Mehus from the Netherlands desperately frustrated about intolerance and dehumanizing attitudes towards migrants. South Korean by origin, she was adopted by a Norwegian family, studied communication and international development in Australia for five years and spent the last ten years on and off traveling to 50 countries.
I am a migrant by legal definition and also a self-labeled traveler, but I am the same person regardless of any labels I, or anyone else, assigns to me.
A year ago she founded a project called Pocket Stories which aims to unite migrants and travelers to challenge the stereotyping and prejudice of mobility labels through storytelling. It is a platform where stories of people from around the world are collected and shared in order to change the existing attitude to migrants:
I want to show the diversity and beauty of migrants. I want to create the same positive image for migrants that we have for travelers. But most importantly, I want to promote the people behind the labels.
Pocket Stories puts forward the proposition that migrants and travelers are just two different points on the spectrum. Where do we draw the line between migrants and travelers anyway? Is there a clear distinction? Refugees and immigrants can easily be categorized as migrants while tourists and backpackers can both be called travelers. But what about international students and business people, North European pensioners purchasing permanent holiday homes in Southern Europe or volunteers working in orphanages abroad? Are they migrants, or are they something else?
The immigration and tourism phenomena are compared in the following infographic video which shows how they are interlinked and provides new perspectives. Also it illustrates how media and politics shape the way we view immigrants and finally proposes a simple solution to overcome the fear of the unknown.
Share your story. Your story matters. Help us create a library full of personal stories that trigger curiosity and respect for people and cultures. Be part of our movement that aims to replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity and respect. We all carry individual and diverse stories, but are we really that different?
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