The Austrian radio station, Ö1, has launched a campaign that creatively responds to an important, but often overlooked, aspect of the refugee crisis currently impacting Austria, and other parts of Europe. Ö1’s #HowtobeAustrian social media campaign is asking questions about Austrian identity politics and the answers aren’t going to always be cute or comfortable.
How does one become Austrian? What does it mean to be Austrian? Who are the arbiters deciding when one has become Austrian “enough?” Is it just about time spent living in the country, or is it a sufficient display of cultural norms and habits? Can we become Austrian and still maintain a semblance of our our home country’s culture?
These are exceptionally poignant and topical considerations given the current influx of newcomers crossing Austrian borders.
As expatriates we all know that “being Austrian” isn’t just about stamped paperwork (all that stamped paper work). Instead, wearing a new cultural identity is much more nuanced, complicated and personal than a stack of passports, processed visas or official signatures.
This campaign wants you to offer up your own opinion about #HowtobeAustrian by commenting on their videos and sharing your personal stories, making sure to use the campaign’s hashtag. With the intention of reaching as large an audience as possible, Ö1 are hosting responses across all of their social media channels (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook) and the station’s homepage.
Prior to launching #HowtobeAustrian, Ö1 connected with some celebrity expats to share their visions of what makes one Austrian:
(From their recent press release, and translated into English) At the start of the campaign, Ö1 questioned several men and women, many artists among them, that came to Austria from abroad and have lived here for some time.
The Mexican artist Angélica Castelló shows us how bizarre learning German can be. She bought educational records with promising titles such as “Effortless German” at the flea market; she tells us that one of their messages was “We aren’t big, but we’re strong.”
Slavko Ninić of the (band) Wiener Tschuschenkapelle explains that Austria has certain etiquette rules that must be learned. “You think you’re doing something wrong, or that you’re unpopular as a foreigner – but that’s not true, it’s a matter of how you say things.”
Englishmen like Eugene Quinn, who has lived in Austria for seven years, quickly find out where the pitfalls are, such as the question “Who do you vote for?” or “Why do you smoke?” Eugene is a journalist and DJ, who organizes cultural events in the Vienna area with his urban culture group “space and place.”
Ö1 wants to hear from you. They want to share your stories and experiences with the intention of elevating the idea that #HowtobeAustrian is a lot more complicated than the current infographics the government is passing out to new arrivals.
Will you make a video? Do you feel up to sharing your thoughts on #HowtobeAustrian?