Research is harwd

Before setting out this summer, I had big goals.  I wanted to put together a solid enough project that I could have something of publishable quality by the time I got home.  However, in the world of academia, one must craft a research design without major holes.  For me this has been my major battle.  It’s not that I haven’t put my head to the task- oh, I have! But putting together something solid without consistent guidance and advice from someone with experience has proven to be too tough for me.  Over the past 6 weeks, I have interviewed over 60 NGO directors, teachers, principals, and gardeners. I have learned immensely about the role of school gardens in the food security problem in Cape Town.  However, where I have failed is putting this all together for an academically sound project.  Learning about school gardens has taken me all over the place- to a fault.  What I have desperately needed is someone who knows about this situation in Cape Town to advise me through my project, telling me where I should focus and what tangents to ignore.  While I am very happy that I have learned greatly about this topic, I am sad to say I have circled it, like a vulture, yet, have lacked the ability to go in for the kill.  I now have so much data yet no idea how to use.  With only 4 weeks left here, I no longer have the time (or motivation) to restart my project from the drawing board.  But, I am not down or pessimistic at all.  In fact, I now have a really great opportunity.  This past spring I was nominated to be in W&M’s new journalism course where students work with a Pulitzer journalist to publish a story on an underdeveloped issue.  Bingo!  What I need is not to change my topic, but rather change my perspective.  Instead of trying to approach school gardens from an academic researcher perspective, I will transform myself into Max The Journalist. Or maybe even Max The Journalist The Great— or maybe not.  As a previous research vulture, I have gotten a very clear picture on what’s going on and who are the actors.  This places me in a good position to start trying to tell the story of school gardens in Cape Town.  And with this new project, I have an advisor who will hold my hand and coach me through this one! Yes!