July Backdated Post

JULY 30th 2010

This month is wrapping up.  I’ve thought many times of blogging but have yet been able to synthesize (not to mention log onto the blogging website) all that I have learned.  But the month is drawing to a close and I suppose it is time.

Field:

My laptop continues to fail on me, which is frustrating.  I use internet cafes here but it is impossible to upload and download large files.  So really for research I am dependent on all the articles I downloaded onto my computer.  Which, minus my laptop’s mood swings and hissy fits (please excuse the personification) I have had more than enough research material.

Research material – Sometimes I feel like I am very off topic with all the things I read and the understandings I am gaining.  But then, it will hit me sitting in a Rabat café how it all connects or some things connect.  I would be robbing myself and my thesis (once again excuse the personification) a great deal of understanding if I did not approach this topic from many disciplinary angles.  The penal and family legal codes relate to the understanding of unwed motherhood just as much as their stories do.  So while I am glad I have focused on gaining interviews I am equally as glad I have split my time researching the social, legal, religious, and political background.  While it might not feel like they contribute or connect at the time I am reading, I do feel like they do in the overarching picture, which is what I am attempting to understand.

Interviews – I have obtained more interviews that I originally set out to do, which is wonderful.  I set out to interview six single mothers and have doubled that number.  I also have interviews with three employees of NGOs.  The beginning of August will begin the transcription process which I am particularly excited about.

NGOs- I interviewed in Agadir and Tangier.  Zakaria was invaluable not only in gaining access to these NGOs but conducting the interviews in colloquial Arabic so that the women felt comfortable.  I also found that I made an assumption that I believe turned out to be wrong.  While some information might have been withheld from the women given that Zakaria was male, the important component of trust was that he was Moroccan.  If I had brought a female, but she was not Moroccan I would have had no success.  But his share nationality opened doors not only to the NGOs but the women themselves.  I have asked myself what if my translator was female and Moroccan would I have been even more successful?  To be honest I am unsure.  But given my field realities this was not an option.

I was disappointed to find that volunteering as a means of giving back was not a feasible option.  Partly this was my fault in not being able to communicate effectively, but also the structure of NGOs seemed not to allow this in the same way it would in America.  So during the next months of my college experience I will need to find ways in which I can give back to these NGOs.  I believe one way will be to use some of my Dintersmith money to translate my final thesis into Arabic and send it to the NGOs to use as they will such as policy reform, legal reform, etc.  I also am attempting to find ways to fund these NGOs better as the issue of single mothers is not a topic that is well funded by the government or community.  These women need assistance and as many things in this world, this is impossible without the necessary funds.  A sad reality, but also a true reality.

I am not sure if I ever felt like I was exactly where I should be in my research.  I always felt like I should be doing more and more.  But well, eventually I had to realize that some things are out of my control.  I can continue to try but in the end I must use my time effectively and be smart about it.  There was no need to beat myself up about things out of my control.  Also I never did quite figure out what bar of success I was measuring myself on.  I think it was the “you can also do more bar”.  This was helpful and harmful in some ways I believe.  But I will have a better understanding for my next season in the field.

A lot of my time has been spent reading, reading, reading and I know this will continue.  But I have begun writing and this is good.  I began at the end of my study abroad period so some of my original ideas I question, but it is incredibly nice and comforting to at least have something on paper, on outline/skeleton I can adjust, change, fill in, adapt, and grow.  This makes me feel much more confident and like I have more time to continue researching.  I am hoping to have a couple conversations as well with some professors in the states to continue my understanding of this issue.

I am also moving out of my apartment this week and back into the medina.  This will be wonderful to see more often those I now consider not only friends but family.  I am moving in with Zakaria and his family.  I considered moving back in with my host family but their means are limited and well, to be honest Zakaria’s family would be more extremely disappointed.

The field I work, research, live, and play within is continually changing and I don’t just mean the social and political climate.  My role, my relationships, everything continues to change and shift and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I am incredibly sad my ten weeks in the field is almost up.  I am going to attempt to make the most of these last two and half weeks that I have in Morocco.