By Barbara Hunting
First something to tickle your funny bone; experiential learning (life) happens. Let me share an amusing event from this morning, I woke up and as usual I went to leave my room and the door would not open. (Wed. June, 12, 2013) I am staying with a villager and her daughter and her daughter and I attempted to open the door; the door would not open. I went to the window and saw no one as it was early. I went back to the door and rattled the handle some more. Ruth heard me! She asked me to drop the key and pass it under the door; I told her the door was not locked. We both laughed. I asked her to try the handle and she did; it opened. The mechanism on the inside of the door had worn out. I did have a moment of panic because the windows have bars on them, so there was no escape route. I have found that an essential part of field work is humor.
Research journey; I am impressed with my research participants! I am using photovoice technique (participants take pictures, then interpret the pictures) [see C. Wang, 1999, C. Mitchell, 2011] while co-constructing a health policy dialogue with the research participants in the Kasungu region of Malawi. What excites me about using photovoice technique is that the participants become empowered to narrate their health concerns and issues.
Without revealing too many details, I can explain that in this rural area of Malawi there are many concerns related to health and this year, while doing my doctoral research, I have the opportunity to take the community health concerns to the next level and begin to co-construct a health policy dialogue. It is a request that has been made by the community. I have worked with senior and junior populations (in Canada) to bring them together around creating awareness about HIV and AIDS. I came to this project due to my interest in experiential learning and collaborative classroom projects.
Discussions around themes of health concerns lead to the challenge of representing ideas through pictures. I arrived with a collaborative project and the participants have enhanced my abilities of interpretation. These participants continue to amaze me.
Dialogues emerge from the photos that are taken in workshops, then pictures are chosen by the group and then a focus group discussion begins. After this focus group session, there are separate interviews to capture any concerns that could be more personal and not shared within a group. The groups are all asked to reflect on a space to hold a photovoice exhibit where all the groups will see all of the photos and captions. The main focus is to examine and capture health concerns and create awareness possibly to new audiences and co-construct a greater awareness about health in the everyday.
That’s it for now! More from the field soon!
BaaBlah (Barbara Hunting)