Becoming an Ethnographer

I am new to ethnography research and  I am a little nervous, yet excited, to start our research. After arriving in country, I notice myself getting comfortable with a day, two days of adjustment. I am not stranger to hearing stories but for some reason, the research context makes this task daunting. At its heart, we are walking to a community and simply asking “Tell us what is it like to be you. Tell me your triumphs, your struggles, what you care about and where your needs are not being met.” This is what I will try to focus on.

For our first interview, we  speak with a women well known by our team, a gregarious mother of two who speaks almost perfect English (while conducting interviews, we would find that a range from those who spoke perfect English to those with whom our communication relied solely on the translator). The survey questions were still a bit rough and we had yet to figure out our rhythm. It is difficult to ask questions which make sense in both English and Ewe, the native language. As we conducted more interviews, we tailed the questions to inquiries which would translate with correct meaning in Ewe. All of these aspects of the research required time, a few awkward silences, blank stares and experience. Conducting ethnography research contains an element of art as well as science. There was so much we could not know until we were on the ground conducting these interviews.