I think the most surprising thing about Carrie’s lecture was her feeling about it as a whole. She seemed to regret certain aspects of her research while in South Africa. She claimed that the way she handled herself while in Durban, South Africa led to her having less of an impact. She spent too much time interested in the bus system and other less important aspects of Durban, and didn’t notice that the building across the street from the school was extremely dangerous for kids. This lead to Carrie’s suggestions on limiting violence not being feasible for this specific town. This surprised me because I feel like I would have made the same mistake. When I travel, I tend to fall into more of a tourist than an actual observer of the culture. This has huge ramifications when one is actually doing research to help a community. It is so easy to get caught up in the less important aspects when one is in a place that is so different than what they are used to. To make a legitimate difference using research in a new culture, one has to put away their tourist side and get to the bottom of what they are trying to fix.
Another thing I think is very important when it comes to doing research abroad, is to know why you are doing it. Carrie talked about people that go to another country to set up a project that doesn’t help the community after they leave. These people will go to the country, take a picture with the native people there, post it on Instagram, then leave the country without making an impact. This is utterly unacceptable. Carrie went to Lima, Peru to help eradicate the spread of HIV. She went to Durban, South Africa to make the lives of children there safer. She knows exactly what she is doing every time she left the country, which is why she has such a successful impact. Find what you want to change in the world, then go out and do it. If you’re doing it to take pictures and put it on a resume, there is a chance you can do more harm than good.
The hardest part of doing research abroad seems to be figuring out the culture of wherever you are going to be. What would you all do to get a better understanding of the culture of where you are going? Who would you talk to? What research would you do prior to your arrival?