Thursday, March 31, 2011

Journal #25

I was nervous to do the Social Situations Scavenger Hunt at first. Mostly I was nervous to have to start a random conversation with a person I didn't know. However, after I thought about it for a while I realized that I will have to do something similar to this in India, so I better get used to it. I think for some reason it is more difficult to go outside your own cultural norms instead of some one else's cultural norms. But regardless of the difficulty of the situation I will have to try to find a way to meet new people in order to do my research. I also found it a bit hard to know what to take notes on, so I just wrote everything down I could think of (and what we wrote down in class before hand). Here is a brief outline of what I wrote down: 1) Greeting started from roughly 10 feet apart; both walking at a quick pace male was going in one direction and the female in the opposite direction The male said "What's up" and the female said "hi" The female made a slight hand motion that was semi-circular Continued in opposite directions 2) Conversation took place 5 feet apart Both were standing under the bookstore sign Both were leaning against the wall The male had his hands in his pockets The female used frequent hand motion when talking Both had made eye contact and then looked away periodically 3) Both females were sitting down across from each other One female was holding a bottle of water while talking and had her legs crossed She was wearing black pants and a black top The other female was wearing a pink shirt and her hands were crossed on the table Both used the phrase "So my news....." and proceded to tell circumstances of their lives Both used a lower tone of voice than the conversations around them Neither one was smiling or laughing during the conversation 4) The males were 4 feet apart standing outside near a building Both had hands in their pockets, there was no hand movement during the conversation Both males were swaying side to side The conversation lasted about 30-45 seconds The conversation ended when one of the males showed the other his small, black, plastic device (looked like a phone) and then began to talk into it while he walked away from the other male. The other male said "See ya" and turned to walk away in the opposite direction 5) I began speaking with a younger male (early 20s) at a booth He stayed seated the whole time Asked where I worked and then asked my responsibilies His hands were crossed and he was leaning back in his chair during the conversation He spoke about his job and his desire to study 6) I asked permission to sit down The woman stopped reading her book and consented to my sitting down When I asked about her book she closed the book and proceeded to speak about what she was reading. She then asked me a question. We took turns asking each other questions about favorite classes, majors, goals, When she was ready to stop talking and continue her book she said "Good luck with everything" and then opened her book and began reading. No other words were exchanged until I got up and left the table. 7) While I was speaking to one male another one came up and greeted the male I was in a conversation with The entering male had a bag of blue candy and discussed his thoughts about the candy He offered the candy to his friend and after a short period he offered the candy to me. He was standing during the whole conversation; however, the male he greeted was seated. He had a backpack and jacket on I found that I had a hard time not assuming situations or observations. However, it was fun to be able to not only view people's conversations and interactions but then view my own interactions within my own culture.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Journal #24

In class today the discussion got me thinking about what might really happen while I am in the field. Generally it is easy to just think about the overall idea of going to a foreign country and not necessarily what problems can occur or what might take place during that time. For example, I really have no idea how I am going to get from the airport to my home; at first thought I just lazily said that it "will all work out and I won't worry about it now". Although there is truth to that statement, I have not been taking into consideration the fact that I don't know the language fluently, I don' t know how to exchange the money, and I don't know how far it is from one city to another. These things could make it a lot more difficult trying to get to my city. But if I take time to ask and research the best way to get from the airport to Coimbatore before I get there life will be a lot easier when something unexpected happens (e.g. the train leaves without me). Even though we can't be completely "prepared" we can still gain more knowledge about where we are going. And in addition to that knowledge it is important to be flexible like Ashley taught. I remember when I was in Chile so many unexpected things happened to us on a daily basis that if we weren't flexible we would not have had a good time. For example, I remember one time we were trying to go into Argentina on a trip and had to take a bus to Santiago (about 3 hours from where we were staying) and then switch buses to go to Argentina. Unfortunately we forgot the temporary visa that they gave us at the airport that was needed to leave and enter the country (...yeah I know, that's kind of embarressing to admit). Although we could speak spanish at a conversational level, it was still very difficult to navigate finding a bus that would take us back to our house before all the local transportation stopped and before it was too dangerous to be traveling. Luckily everyone in my group was fairly level-headed so we were able to work together and make it back without a problem. Had we not known about the local transportation in addition to being calm/flexible and not freaking out, we would have had a much harder time. So even though I do not know everything about where I am going or the challenges that I will run into, I still want to think about the fears that I have and do my best to answer them now that way I will be better equiped to handle the stressful situation when it arises.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Journal #23

Today the discussion we had about putting certain labels on situations/people/etc changes our perspective. It is interesting to think how we put certain labels on things without necessarily knowing it. For example, while I was in Chile on my mission I was teaching English to a group of people and I was the only North American in the room. Somehow we got onto the topic of continents and I mentioned something about 1 of the 7 continents. Everyone in the room starting laughing and asking me how many continents there were. I told them that there were 7 and they laughed even more. Apparently in South America, it is taught that there are 5 continents. Now at that time my immediate reaction was defensive, I had always been taught that there were 7 continents, not 5...THEY were wrong not me. I even got so defensive about it I had my mom look it up for me to see where in the world they teach that there are 5 continents instead of 7 (to see which was the more popular). Looking back on this experience, I overreacted (obviously) but I was also not thinking correctly about the situation. Our idea of a continent in the US is obviously different than the idea of a continent in South America, we put a different meaning on the same word. One is not necessarily "right" and the other "wrong" but they are different. Now hopefully if I encounter a similar situation while in India I will react differently, knowing that large differences on the surface of a problem are the product of different cultural ideas and beliefs.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Journal #22

I recently read read an article about culture shock that I found interesting. It discussed the different levels of culture shock (Honeymoon, Crisis, Adjustment, Mastery) and what actions are found in each level. Whenever I travel I find that I experience some sort of culture shock (whether it is large or small) and as a result feel that everyone experiences culture shock in some form or another. The difficult thing about culture shock is that while you are experiencing it many times it is difficult to recognize the fact that it is culture shock that you are experiencing. For example, when I went to Chile on my internship I went with 2 other girls. These girls were my friends and I had lived with one of them before this trip. Now, during the "Crisis" phase of my culture shock I got irritated at them for things that normally would not have bothered me. It was the fact that there was so much around me that was unfamiliar and that I could not "handle" that the normal small things became too much. It took us a while before we realized that our common bickering was caused by culture shock. However, once we discovered this we were able to fix it. When one of us was doing something that got to the point of being annoying instead of arguing we would do something different: go for a walk, go to our rooms to write, go get ice cream, etc. etc. and we were able to peacefully get through our Crisis stage.
I think that my favorite stage is the "Mastery" stage becuase this is where I feel you truly learn the lessons from everything that you have gone through and you are able to take those lessons home with you. in this stage you are used to everyday life and as a result you are able to better understand the culture you are in, the people you are surrounded by and the life you are experiencing. This can be difficult for many because it is easy to get stuck in the Crisis stage or the Adjustment stage for the majority of the trip. However, I have learned that the best way to deal with Culture Shock and get through these stages is to learn how to recoognize each stage and as a result be able to move through each stage to a point where you can enjoy the experience of living in another country.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Journal #21

At the Inquiry Conference I went to a session that discussed women's education in Africa. One of the most interesting things I found about this research project was the fact that many did not agree with female education because they believed that it made the females "rebellious". This comment made me wonder why they would think this way. Is it due to the fact that the women are now learning other things and no longer want to stay at home and learn how to be a housewife? Or is it that what is being taught is of a more western nature and therefore when the women put into practice what they learn it is considered "rebellious"? Or is it a different reason entirely?
In many of the readings that I have done for my project the lack of female education has always been considered a major issue. When women are more educated, not only do they do better economically in life, but they also help thier family members. Also, when discussing HIV, many women are not educated on how HIV is spread; and as a result are more at risk to become infected. Since many women are dependent on their husbands (due to lack of economic freedom, education, etc. etc. ) this poses a serious problem when taking into consideration that many times it is the husband's actions of being unfaithful that cause the woman to get HIV.
But even though I think that women's education is important and necessary, I wonder how the instruction of HIV prevention will be viewed by others. Will these women now become "rebellious" becuase they want their husbands to be tested for HIV, or becuase they want to wear protection so that they are not at such a high risk for HIV infection? Coming from a western public health standpoint, educating a woman so that she will do this is essentially the goal; however, according to other cultures, this type of education is undesireable. I think that this issue is more than just a cultural one, I think that it is deeper. Not educating a woman to protect herself so that she will be more submissive and "obedient" is wrong, no matter what the culture.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Journal #20

I thought that the reading for today's lecture/the lecture itself was very interesting. I always find non-verbal communication to be very interesting. We all know that non-verbal communication is something that is important, we have all been taught this many times;however, very rarely do we actually pay attention to what we are doing and the possible signs that we are giving off. In addition, how we act and our non-verbal communication changes with each situation. After I read this article I paid closer attention to my body language: how I acted when I was angry, tired, at work, at home, etc. etc. And I found that I changed quite a bit. While I was at work I focused more on my posture and made sure that I was trying to be "proper" but when I got home I threw my coat on the couch and the farthest thing from my mind was if I was sitting up straight.

I always think about a discussion one of my roommates and I had a few years back. She had just gotten off her date and was mad becuase her date did not pick up on the "hints" she was giving him. She never actually vocally said that she was not interested; however, she felt that she had told him non-verbally that she was not interested. He thought otherwise. Even within the same culture certain non-verbal signs can be taken differently. Now this can be hard when trying to go to a new culture. Especially if you are just learning how to act and what is acceptable and what is not. I have found that it is fine to be observant and view what others are doing. However, I think it's also important to take that with a grain of salt and be careful with what you emulate because what might be ok for one person can be very different for another (as seen in our own culture). Regardless I think that learning about different ways of communicating (whether in your own culture or another culture) is an interesting life-long process.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Journal #19

I went back and listened/read the article about polygamy in America. I must admit I was very surprised by this article for many reasons. I suppose it is because when I started reading it I was thinking as a member of the LDS church and as a result I already formed opinions about people who have branched from the original LDS church. However, I quickly discovered that if I wanted to gain anything from this article, I had to at least try to separate myself from my pre-concieved ideas and try to be open-minded.

I found that the photographer's ability to tell a story from an outside perspective to be very good. I felt that she was able to try to look at everything subjectively and was able to give general information about a group of people that the majority don't really know about or understand. However, I found it interesting that even though she and her partner went to the same places and spoke with the same people, they came up with different theories. At one point in the interview the interviewer asked her if she thought the polygamist colony was a matriarchal society like her partner wrote about in his article. She said that she did not think that it was as matriarchal as he did. This goes to show that even though two people can be witnessing the same events and experiencing the same things, they perseive it differently. Although we try to be as subjective as possible, it is impossible not to form opinions. So even though she essentially tried to give a "real" look into polygamist colonies, we are still seeing this information through her eyes and through her bias. Although I think that it's impossible to be completely free of bias, I do think that researchers must try to do it in order to provide the best data possible.