June, 2016 – Working:
Since I have been working abroad I have learnt a few things about planning research projects – they CHANGE WITHOUT WARNING!!!! But it is how you deal with these changes that matters. It reminds me of a song “funny thing about a garden beauty live beyond its gates, but weeds and roots they grow there and they’re all used to create different colour variation sweet aromas and sensations… cause we all need a little bit need a little bit of dirt to grow…” Now why would I give you a song that seems completely unrelated? It is not. When I came to the organization I saw the garden, but as I started to work I saw the weeds and roots that grow there – mostly, they come in the form of partnerships that do not work out, so the money that was slated for a project is not there; or there are changes within an organization that make projects unfeasible. I could just look at the dirt and say f— it, get mad and stay in that emotion, or be mad for a moment (not at the people who do not deserve your anger) let it out, and make a plan based on the resources I have now. A situation came up that looked like I would almost lose the original purpose of my internship – which can happen more often than people would like. I spoke to the powers that be about it, and we agreed that the scope of the research could be narrowed, so the original purpose may not be completely lost.
July, 2016 – Culture Shock:
Culture Shock is like a spectre hiding in the background. It never comes out with a huge sign with flashing lights saying “hey you have culture shock!” It comes out in your complaints and misunderstandings of the “other”. Culture shock is inevitable and it rears its’ head when you are tired and lonely, but must be acknowledged and understood for what it is – the other people do things that are culturally different from home, and sometimes they are unapologetic about it, but are you always unapologetic about some of your ways? Culture shock needs to be negotiated; what I mean by this is that I need to think what has been ingrained both in me through various social structures and how they are continually reproduced, and remember that, that same process is alive and well for everyone. The negotiation after this thought process is in the action of addressing how do I not further demean this person, I am ultimately trying to help, so they become less alien to me even though their worldview may still be foreign to me, and I may not agree with some of it.
Stephanie Solomon is a Master’s Student in Cohort 4 of the Master of Development Practice program. Stephanie’s background is in multiculturalism and immigration. Her current research interests include poverty alleviation, gender, children’s development, and social mobility.