June 30th, 2006
It has been almost 3 weeks since I arrived to India. Being my first visit, I got a very comprehensive, concrete and interesting introduction to the country’s culture and diverse society during the four day orientation workshop organized by UNICEF in Delhi.
The workshop included a variety of topics that ranged from lectures on India’s social norms, people’s participation and cultural values to practical sessions on group work and case study design. That first week was also a great opportunity to meet and break the ice with many graduate Indian and international students with a variety of backgrounds. Aside from my group, I got to make really good and valuable friends who I’m still in touch with.
At the end of that week, my group and I flew to Pune, where we were placed with a developmental institute called YASHADA with whom we will be assessing “The Impact of Micro-planning on Women’s Empowerment” in villages of Maharashtra.
After an initial orientation to the institute and a number of introductory meetings with our research supervisor, I spent the first couple of weeks reading and surfing through any relevant articles or books on ‘Micro- planning’, ‘Women’s Empowerment’ and ‘Impact Assessment’. My group and I also had a few lectures and meetings with university professors discussing research methodology in the Indian village context.
My group and I got closer to each other as we went through the reading material in order to understand different concepts and formulate and research design. In spite the clear cultural differences and educational backgrounds and skills, we did get along very quickly and our argumentative meetings usually end up with fruitful results.
We finalized a preliminary proposal for our research design, which was presented to our supervisor and representatives form UNICEF’s state office in Mumbai.
Currently, we are trying to make all the necessary changes to our design after getting helpful feedback from our supervisor and UNICEF representative. We are also trying to formulate an initial structure for the story line of the film that we’ll be producing on our topic.
We were informed that our trip to the field will probably take place next week, yet the exact village name or location has not been decided upon.
So far, this has been an exceptional experience for me. I am looking forward for the fieldwork and I hope that my group and I will be able to generate valuable and useful data on this particular topic.