5 Sep ’14
During the Spring C21S course, I developed a proposal that aimed at examining the status of single mothers in Morocco, how their lifestyle is impacted by the Islamic state and what resources are available to them. I successfully conducted a lot of research, gathering numerous sources and reading a solid amount of literature. Upon arriving in Morocco, I had resources and contacts at my fingertips and was appreciative of the efforts made by Lotfi to provide me with the information I needed. I was able to collect business cards, talk to individuals whom are directly involved with single mother communities in Morocco and learn more about women and the role they play in Islam. However, after the conclusion of my stay in Morocco, I found myself stuck. I realized that I had numerous contacts and options as far as taking my research to the next level, but I was having a hard time focusing my topic and pinpointing its relevance. I placed my pursuit of this topic on hold while I traveled to Turkey and Sri Lanka with an open mind.
Once on my internship in Sri Lanka, I had the amazing opportunity through Sarvodaya to volunteer in a village right outside of Nuwara Eliya. I was placed in the home of one of the staff members of the Sarvodaya district center in “Little England.” My primary assignment was to teach English at the village school. While this had no correlation with my interests I shared with Bandula, I realized I could take advantage of the opportunity and possibly pursue another research topic.
Before I left for my 17 day homestay, I began to talk to different Sarvodaya staff members in Moratuwa about possible health issues I could look into. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and talked to a gentleman who was able to refer me to a nutrition graduate student whom also worked at headquarters. I was led to her office and sat down to talk to her, finding out prominent nutrition concerns in Sri Lanka. Geethmi shared with me the common practice of pregnant and lactating women believing certain myths regarding their diet. This immediately caught my attention, and I became interested in researching specific nutritional myths and beliefs of these Sri Lankan women. I decided to research what the specific myths/practices are, and how they impact the nutritional status of the baby and mother. Two days before my departure, I composed a questionnaire to be given to pregnant and/or lactating mothers, and Geethmi offered to revise and translate the document for me. With her great assistance and my ability to make 30 copies of the survey, I was ready to pursue a new research topic while in the village.
I had the opportunity to go into Nuwara Eliya town to a municipal clinic serving malnourished children and their families. Deepthi, my host sister who is the staff member at Sarvodaya, helped me administer my questionnaires to 30 women! Most of them were lactating women and were very willing to sit down and answer the 3 page survey I had. I am very pleased with my ability to have conducted this research among a specific population and obtain data concerning one case study. While there were limitations I faced while conducting the research, such as the language barrier, the lack of one on one interaction, and the inability to ask additional questions or write down the entire answer (all of which I will include in my paper), I am confident in my results. I have started to compile all of the data in an excel spreadsheet and have already come across answers Deepthi recorded that I have questions about. I am able to communicate with Deepthi over Facebook messenger and ask her specifics, so this should be a great help. I unfortunately realized that some of the data is incomplete. However, the last section of the questionnaire, which consists of a “Micronutrient Quiz,” provides me complete answers and data that is invaluable and should propel my main focus.
To say the least, my travel and internship experience shifted my research to an entirely new topic. However, I am confident in being able to successfully work on and pursue this topic throughout the semester and am encouraged by my background and major in HNFE. This not only greatly helps my pursuit of this new topic, but grants me the resources I need on this campus. I have already met with Mrs. Nicolin Girmes-Grieco, the professor for the Nutrition Across the Lifespan course I took freshman year, and have discussed my research details. She is willing to help in anyway and provide knowledge or additional resources I may need. While I do have a lot of background knowledge and personal connections relating to this topic, there is no doubt I need to conduct new research to adequately develop my altered project topic. I need to take many trips to library where I will find numerous amounts of literature regarding the required nutrition for pregnant and lactating women, nutrition in other countries and basic nutritive facts. I am looking forward to continuing to work on my paper, day by day, and compile all of the information I need to make this project a success. I know I have resources that are willing to assist me in the process, such as Shelby, Dr. Siegle, Mrs. Girmes-Grieco and even my “minority participation in research” program director–Dr. Jody Thompson. It will be a feat, but a rewarding and learning achievement.