Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time to Catch My Breath

These last few weeks have been so busy! A couple of weeks ago, I went to Mochudi. Mochudi is a very famous little village in Botswana where Isaac Shapera did his work. It was very exciting for me to be there. We went to the local museum, which, according to Nyugen's guide book is "the best museum in Botswana." It was lovely. Very small, but run by a very sweet couple who showed us around. The man who showed us around also showed us his studio where he prints designs for museum souvenirs. Every one in the town was especially helpful. Whether they were showing us where the museum was or hanging out with us at the bus stop.
Last weekend a few of us ended up in Lobatse. We intended to climb some of Otse (a large hill/mountain), but instead ended up just hanging out around town and at the hotel. It was really interesting to talk to people that we met in town. A lot of people had no idea why we would even go as he put it, "There are only really old people and rich people in Lobatse." We also visited the new psychiatric hospital for An, as she needed information for her independent study project.
This week has been full of proposal's and research. Our preliminary research proposal was due on Wednesday. I think mine's not too bad. I plan to research whether or not there's been a significant cultural change in regards to women's attitudes about child custody. I am focusing on the current debate of whether or not to place the child's name on the birth certificate. I think that a lot more women intend to place the child's name on the birth certificate due to laws that don't necessarily take into account previous cultural practices. However, some of these laws are necessary in light of a cash economy and changing views about relationships, etc. My goal is to do a series of interviews of young, pregnant women around campus. There are a lot of them here. I plan to ask them whether or not they put the father's name on the birth certificate and why. I am running into difficulties on how to approach the women though. I want to put out pamphlets around campus explaining my research and seeing if I get any volunteers. However, a sample based purely on volunteers might give me skewed results so I have to find other ways of contacting women. There are definite ethical concerns with me hanging out in the clinics, since they are supposed to be a safe space for the women to go and get medical care. I might have to, in addition to the pamphlets, just walk up to pregnant women around campus and ask if they would mind having a conversation with me. Although, I'm not sure if this is okay either. Perhaps, the stigmas associated with pregnancy in the U.S. are influencing my choices. Pregnancy for young women is not as big a deal here.
Overall, these past few weeks have been fun and full of thought. I don't think I will ever stop enjoying meeting new people or visiting new places. Each village is a new experience filled with different attitudes, new people, and interesting scenery. I'm sure I'll get my research figured out. If you have any suggestions about approaching potential interviewees, don't hesitate to let me know.

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