Our individual actions are important as we fight the assaults being imposed by the current administration, but our efforts will always have more impact if we connect with others. This week we shared 5 ways Americans living overseas could organize a protest event in their host country, but you can’t have an event without…people.
While I am convinced that more movements will begin tapping into us, as the political force we could represent (like the Women’s March is successfully doing, mobilizing the participation of Americans in over 45 countries in Sister Marches) meanwhile, we have to start organizing.
Whether you just moved to a new country or are an overseas veteran, here are three concrete steps you can take to forming an overseas resistance group.
Step 1: Find the Americans
You wouldn´t think this would be hard. Between our obnoxious voices, that always manage to stand out in a crowd, to our ability to wear flip-flops and shorts in any country any time of the year, you would think we would be easy to spot. But at the moment you really need an American overseas they are nowhere to be found. Yet, to begin to mobilize you are going to need support.
- Your friends: This is obvious but start with people you know. A resistance group does not have to be big. You could start with even just 4 or 5 people. Ask a good friend or someone you met once at a party. Between the two of you, you could probably think of a couple more people who might be interested.
- Expat Facebook: Get hooked up to some “expat” Facebook groups. These are the sort of places where you wouldn´t necessarily want to be hanging out otherwise. Yet, for organizing they could be a good resource. To find a group in your city just put in the word “expat” and your city name. More than likely it will be a closed group so you will have to wait for your request to be approved. Examples: ExPats in Germany, Expats Medellin, Hong Kong Expats, Buenos Aires Expats, Expats of Granada Nicaragua. Be prepared, because if you post you don´t know what kind of responses you are going to get and there are ALL sorts of folks on these pages. If the personality of these groups doesn´t feel right, try sub expat groups, like Mom groups, (Ex. Expats Budapest Moms), women’s groups (Ex. Expat women in Dubai), entrepreneur or business groups (Ex. Expat Entrepreneurs in Peru).
- Couchsurfing: Coucsurfing is more than a way to find a place to sleep. The site hosts a space for people to share hangouts and events, and it is a popular posting place for Americans overseas. Try posting and looking on Hangouts or Events in the Couchsurfing page for your city. Ex. Buenos Aires Couchsuring page.
- Meetup: If you haven’t been on Meetup, it is a good resource. It is an online space to help ”join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games…”. More than likely your city will have its own Meetup site. Try setting up a meetup in the city you live, or look for meetups that might be compatible with your political interests. Ex. Istanbul meetup page.
- Alumni associations: If you are in a capital city of a host country, you might have access to your university´s alumni association or other alumni associations. Find your local alumni network, and also sign up for your alumni overseas Facebook page.
- University language centers: If you are living in a host country where English is not the native language, language schools will probably be an important gathering spot for American migrants. If you are in a language school or can tap into some of the university events or notice boards, that would be a great way to meet Americans abroad.
Step 2: Find greater movements
While you are proactively reaching out using some of your host city’s resources as listed above, don´t forget the political infrastructure that already exists for Americans living abroad. Check out these groups, and see what might be already going on in your host country.
- Sister March. The Women’s March on Washington is not over. There are 4,500 “Huddles” or advocacy groups going on around the world as part of the Women’s March right now. MANY of them are outside of the USA and meetup times and places are published online. So check out the map and join an already formed group. If you look at the Huddle map and there is not a group in your host city, be the first to start one. This is free, and anyone can set up a group.
- Americans Abroad Caucus: Did you know we have our own caucus in Congress? Founded in 2007 the purpose of this bi-partisan caucus is ”to provide a forum for discussion of the issues that are important to overseas Americans including citizenship, census, voting, banking access, and taxation.” There are 25 representatives in Congress, meant to be speaking for us. How can we use this?
- Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas: FAWCO is an international federation of independent organizations whose mission includes to build strong support networks for its American and international membership; to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide; and to advocate for the rights of U.S. citizens overseas. They are in 34 countries.
- The Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), founded in 1973 and headquartered in Paris, is an international, non-partisan association with members in 46 countries. It researches issues that significantly affect the lives of overseas Americans and keeps its members informed on those issues.
- American Citizens Abroad: ACA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to Educate, Advocate and Inform both the US Government and US Citizens living and working overseas on issues of concern to the overseas US Citizen community.
- Democrats Abroad: Americans Resisting Overseas, is a non-partisan platform. But if you are a Democrat, you might want to check out if there is an active Democrats Abroad in your country, and see what they are up to.
Step 3: Have your first meeting!
You called your friends or acquaintances, posted and connected on social media, and researched what groups are already being supported in your host city/country. That means you probably have succeeded in getting at least 5 people together. Pick a place and time, publish it online (more people might end up coming than you think) and meet up. A couple of things to take into account for this first meeting.
- Indivisible: To read about some community organizing basics in the time of Trump, check out the great resources offered from indivisible. It is very U.S. oriented, but has a lot of things that could work for us.
- No Besties, No Problem: Americans migrants overseas are from all sorts of places and have all sorts of life experiences. You might not have anything in common with the people at this first resistance meeting. In the best case scenario, this group could turn into a new group of friends. In the worst case, you have made the first step in mobilizing. Not bad!
- Talk: This first meeting should be about getting to know each other, sharing what you want to get out of a possible collaboration and discussing which issues are close to your hearts. Emotional support is also very important!
- Connect to your host country: As you are having this first conversation, don’t forget to reflect on what issues are most impacting the country you live in, and how people in your host country are feeling about the new administration. This will come into play as you begin to plan your actions.
- Get people’s info: Don’t forget at this first meeting to take people’s emails, phone numbers, Facebook names. Discuss and decide how people prefer to communicate.
- End with an action: You are not going to change the world in this first meeting, but end with something concrete you are going to do. It could be as simple as setting up a Facebook page, reaching out to a couple more people, or if you are all on the same page, even proposing a very first action you could do together.
Did you take action?
Let us know from what country and how it went at email@example.com. If you have action ideas from overseas, send us a message!