Research snapshots

That said, my last post doesn’t particularly convey the sense that I like my job, which I very much do.  There are all these small human moments that account for that, that liking, such as the following.

  • Perhaps the most wondrous thing about field research is people’s grace in allowing strangers into their homes, their lives, to pose a series of questions whose purpose must surely seem cryptic to them.  (The surveyors do introduce themselves, and the purpose of the research, of course.  But I think it’s a far cry from those introductions to understanding the worlds of academic publishing, or [in the case of this study] insurance product design, that are the prime movers behind these surveys.)  And yet they do let them in.  They even let me in, when I am monitoring surveyors in the field, and I have been profoundly grateful for these chances to sit under respondents’ carefully thatched roofs and listen to snatches of their lives in my mediocre Dagbani.
  • It’s been great getting to know our surveyors.  The team leaders are just great – thoughtful, organized, and intelligent – and I’ve slowly moved past my initial monolithic impression of the larger survey team as “that group of 20 men (and one woman) who do a lightning strike on the office for their netbooks each morning” to individual interactions, individual personalities.  There’s L., who willingly took on additional work when his team leader fell ill, and D., who is perpetually flashing the friendliest smile at everyone, and many others.  They have been a fantastic group of people to work with.
  • And honestly, much of what’s enjoyable is a succession of small daily things.   The temporary cooling of buying cold Pure Water sachets on the way to the office and drinking them as quickly as possible.  Chasing chickens and small beautiful children out of the open door of the Walewale office, somewhat halfheartedly, because they think it’s a game to come into the office and get chased, and I enjoy the break.  An unexpected frog hopping out of a backpack containing soil samples and into my hands, to be set free outside.  All of these, perfect pleasant diversions from a job that is at times overwhelmingly busy, but always worthwhile.

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