Immigrant Nation

At the heart of Immigrant Nation (iNation) is a simple premise: most people in the U.S. have an immigrant or migrant story to share — whether it’s their own or the story of a relative in the past. The topic of immigration often divides communities across the country, but bringing these stories to the surface has the potential to create commonality between new arrivals and those whose families have lived in the U.S. for generations.

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The Platform











desktoptemplate-waveiNation is anchored by a unique immersive online platform where the user is invited to become a co-creator in the process, creating and sharing their own immigration story.  Anyone and everyone can create and share a story on the iNation platform that relates to their experience with immigration. Users can browse other people’s stories, watch the intimate iNation short films, and experience myriad ways that immigration has shaped and formed our communities and country.  The platform is accessible in English, Spanish, and French.





mobile phone showing ination web app



User stories are told through a simple process using photos and a small amount of text. Based on what the user writes, the story is tagged with keywords. For example, these might be words like family, Russian, love, ancestor, or war. The user assigns their story a date, and country (or countries) of origin.  With the creation process complete, the user’s story appears on a visualization displaying a wave of immigration from the country that the user selected. This wave is a data visualization of immigrant arrivals from the user’s country of origin over the last 200 years. It also includes other user stories that were input with the same country of origin.





iNation logo



The user can then browse through the other immigration stories from their chosen country. They can also select keywords from their own story and then discover other stories with similar themes to theirs. The user can also do a search to find other stories based on other keywords. The search returns all the related stories on all relevant waves — in effect creating a zoomed out view of the connections between diverse groups of immigrants who have flowed into the U.S. over the last 200 years.










The Launch



When considering the launch of iNation, we thought, “What better place to catapult iNation into the world than Ellis Island?” So, we did it! The project launched with a huge 2-day live event on the Ellis Island National Monument.  A wide variety of people came out to Ellis Island to share their stories, watch films, and witness the creation of a live mural.  Groups from international schools, Adult ESL classes, Genealogy clubs, and the interactive storytelling community made it out to the island on two beautiful days in April.  To round off the launch week of the project, we also pulled off a big iNation party in Manhattan, and participated in the TFI Interactive Day as part of the Tribeca Film festival.












Live Events



In the course of developing iNation, we quickly discovered that live storytelling events are one of the best ways to engage communities with their personal immigrant stories. Live iNation events usually consist of a community coming together in a physical space and sharing their personal stories either on the iNation platform (mobile or desktop) or in an analog manner on physical storycards. We have collaborated with an amazing graphic illustrator, Anthony Weeks, who then takes the stories told at the event, and creates a live mural, consisting of all the stories told at the event, in real time. It’s amazing to watch. We also often screen the iNation films in conjunction with the live storytelling/mural, as well as give the community a chance to stand up and tell their personal stories in front of each other, which is often a very powerful and moving experience.












Immigrant Nation Educators Guide
Educators across the country are using the iNation online platform, films, and educators guide to spark discussions about immigration issues, approaching the issues first through personal narratives.


Bulldog Tech, a middle school in San Jose, CA, used iNation as a part of a school-wide personal storytelling project and had almost every student in the school create their story on iNation. Check out the 146 stories from Bulldog tech on the Wave HERE.


Download the FREE iNation discussion guide HERE.