On Monday, July 3…

The past two weeks were dedicated to continuing my research. As I explained in my previous update, I have found that each interview does not last as long as I anticipated. As a result, I have been able to conduct more interviews than I originally proposed. Averaging ten interviews per day, I am on track to collecting data from 100 women and 30 men. After three full weeks of conducting interviews, I have become much more comfortable communicating with my respondents. At the beginning, I was more hesitant to approach random people on the streets of Arusha. Now, I am not affected by people rejecting my offer to participate. In addition, when I first started my research I needed my sheet of questions to read from when talking with women, but I now have my questions memorized. This has allowed for more free-flowing conversations, as I am able to deviate from my prepared questions if interesting new information arises and then return to the matters that still remain undiscussed.

I am always fascinated by the differences in overall tone of the interviews. Even though I do not speak Swahili, it is apparent when people are reluctant to speak with an obvious outsider with dubious intentions. I appreciate when people are open with me, willing to answer my questions and interested in my research. Some respondents, after seeing me talk with other people, even implore that I interview them as well! Anna, my research assistant, remains an important asset for my research. Without her help, I could not interview most of my respondents who speak little or no English. In addition to her invaluable translation skills, Anna has also provided me with friendship. As we walk around town seeking respondents, we talk about topics ranging from the differences between American and Tanzanian culture, the outcome of her latest basketball game, and our shared liking of the Chainsmokers. I hope that after this summer we stay in touch as she continues to university to become a teacher. 

Although I am enjoying Tanzania, especially my research, I am looking forward to the familiarity and comforts of home in two weeks. Whenever I am outside of my house here, I find that I am a constant source of attention, sometimes with genuine interest and other times with an intent meant to elicit a reaction. While I have a thick skin most of the time, naturally I am occasionally bothered by all the cat-calling and shouts of “mzungu” (“white person”) in my direction. In summary, I am pleased with my progress thus far, and I will conclude my research as well as pursue further avenues of interest in the following weeks.

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