Wednesday, 13 February 2013

UK Stocking Up on Garlic and Stakes!

When you live in another country you can become the target of racism. It can be personal, or it can come from a government.

An expat twilight zone
It is important that you don't dismiss the threat you are under. Psychological warfare is dangerous and it can create a climate of hate that leads to racist attacks like the attack on Romanians that happened after the UK leaked a negative ad campaign designed to discourage Romanians from living there.

Where Can I Get Help?

When you are abroad and a government targets you or your country, it is important to ensure your personal safety. Contact your embassy for information about what you should do and whether the country is still safe for you.

If you are in a war zone, you may need to leave, but you might be in a country that's experiencing development and you may need some protection. If you are a high-profile citizen, or in an high-profile job, then you should contact your company/government and ask them to organize a bodyguard.

If you were on the ground in Afghanistan people would believe that you felt threatened, but it might be more difficult to get your company's HR department to understand and believe you. You need to use a more military mindset under these circumstances. Don't be too naive to believe that a government wouldn't target a country and don't be too shocked to respond to aggressive citizens who want to hurt you and your family.

Establish Regular Contact with Your Relatives

Your network at home is important at this point. Call them and tell them what is happening to you. You should also make sure that they can contact you when they need to. A news report of an attack will probably upset them and you should be prepared to let them know that you are OK.

How Do I Handle Work?

It may also become difficult for you to discuss the attacks at work. If your manager is from the country that you are working in, he or she might be unsympathetic to the threats you feel and may respond aggressively to criticism of their nation and your unrealistic expectations of inclusion.

HR should be the place that your concerns are heard and you should approach them for help. Before you meet with HR document the problem and work on framing the information in a way that shows your commitment to your assignment and lets them understand that you need support.

Before you bring up the situation at work, consider the culture in your company. Some companies don't handle requests for help well, they make judgments on you based on the circumstances and can reason that although you aren't creating these problems that it only happened because you were there.

If you are caught in the crossfire, why not spend some time comparing the British vs' Romanian dark sense of humor. 

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1 comment:

  1. Well said!
    The campaign against Romanians and Bulgarians is a way for the government to distract people's attention from the fact that although the Bank of England printed lots of money, stoking inflation (therefore imposing a tax on the poor and the pensioners) the economy is in much worse shape than the economy of, say, Germany...