Done with the first assignment and happy with it
I have posted my first assignment to my Journal.
Here is a link: If there is a will, there is a way - Faiza paves the path, follow her!
When it's done and over with, it looks like a piece of cake. :)
Setting up a meeting, explaining to them why I wanted to talk to them, and trying to get their story without making them feel too invaded were things that I was thinking about prior to the actual meeting.
Source of confidence
I was nervous yes. I approached 5 people and received responses from two.
I conducted two interviews. The first one with a funeral attendant who was also doing wonderful community work by leading a group of women in a thriving small-scale home-based farm 'business', growing their own crops for home use as well as for small-scale sales.
The second interview was with Faiza - a community leader, a very active woman.
When I approached the first interviewee, she indicated I could meet her farming friends if I went to her island to meet her. I hopped on to the ferry that takes about 5 minutes from the metropolitan city to this tiny breakaway city (It’s considered as part of the city for administrative purposes, but are two different islands in its natural formation). The prospect of meeting new people is always daunting at first. Dealing with one person sounded better, but a group made me a little nervous. But I was confident I can feel at ease soon enough. I have been told many times that I have a way of engaging with people (I believe they are being just nice). But yes, that positive feedback from earlier experiences was my source of confidence.
When I met Faiza, it was my second interview and I had no nervousness other than not knowing what she was really like. I had heard about her work from a friend and she was full of praise for Faiza’s leadership role. I briefly met Faiza in January this year, at the national campaign for unity. But that did not give me any background on her.
What went well!
In both interviews I believe I did quite well becoming a part of their journey. Letting my questions roll out naturally in lieu of how the conversation was going, I believe was a good approach. If it was like a question-answer session, the inside information – the little detail that has so much more information than direct question and answers – will most likely be lost. Additionally, slipping some personal information about myself into the conversation I believe helped making them at ease with me and building trust that I was there with a genuine interest of mutual benefit.
For the next time!
I will definitely make sure I write it up as soon as I end the interview. The time should be planned in such a way that I get at least an hour of privacy right after sitting with the subject. Concentrating on note-taking, except for factual information, at the interview is never a good idea. Hence I did not take much note. The little detail is easier captured if a note is made of it before it is forgotten – little details sometimes have a way of getting lost. Additionally, right at the interview when we are talking to the subject, so much goes through our head - like "ah! that's an interesting approach to write about her". Hence, the need to write it up roughly before the excitement of the interview diminishes.
It is also important to record the interview if at all possible. Sometimes it might be felt intrusive and the interviewee may not feel at ease to talk openly if it was recorded. It might be best to have an initial brief meeting to understand the subject and then after establishing a rapport and building the trust, a second interview with full recording might work very well. By the time for the second interview, I can be ready with follow-up questions and angles to pursue further.
I have shared printed photos of the snaps I took during the first interview with the lovely people. They were delighted to see me back and very happy to see themselves on the photos with their farm in the background. I like to believe that we have formed a lasting bond.
As for the second interview - I intend to share Faiza’s Profile story with her after I get feedback from people who read about her. What you have to say about her, her role in the community, and her positive attitude to life - I believe would make her happy and thereby making her commitment more rewarding.
We just completed our first day of the month of Ramadan. It is the beginning of an auspicious month for people belonging to Muslim faith. Here in the Maldives all of us follow the same religion hence it's a special month country-wide. I take this opportunity to wish every Muslim a blessed Ramadan.
For everyone else, especially for those who say "how can you not eat for a whole day and still continue your work?" (my colleagues used to ask me that while I was overseas for 4 years) - to them kind people, I say: people don't need full stomachs to work. One main purpose of this month is for us to be reminded about the poor hungry people who work day and night and yet do not have enough to have even one good meal. We fast for the day but can afford a good meal at sunset.