Nguyen – The First Task

(Sorry this is so late Shelby! But better late than never…right?)


So for my research project, I started out by saying last semester that I wanted to do something in regards to HIV/AIDS, women’s rights and poverty. All those topics are incredibly intriguing and already have much material written on them, but they were also topics I have focused and dealt with in various other research papers for other classes. My motivation for writing my research proposal last semester was often times lacking, because I think I was not dealing with anything new or out of my usual academic comfort zone. My presentation at the end of last semester was also a bust, partly due to my inability to entirely focus on one specific topic, since I had at least twenty-five other ideas running through my head.


I kept my eyes open for a new research topic when we went abroad this summer. I was open to any and every thing that we encountered, whether it be a university lecture or a late night walk in a local marketplace/bazaar with friends. I just kept looking for something new to excite me. Women’s and children’s rights/ healthcare/ education/ nutrition/ sexual empowerment? Awesome! (I’m not being sarcastic; these are extremely in-depth research matters in which I could go on forever). These are topics that I am sure my classmates and I are so exceptionally passionate about, which is really great. I am 120% in favor of doing a topic like this, especially with a class full of budding feminists and women, and indeed have done and read many papers on these subjects. You can never learn enough about something. But I definitely felt like it was time for me to choose a new research topic, one that I didn’t always use as an intriguing yet constant fallback option. I need(ed) something new to entice me and keep me up at night that wasn’t caused by stress-writing or exhaustion, but by an insatiable lust for the unknown.


Since I stayed in Lanka for an extra month due to the internship, I was really able to take some time and think about my research there, instead of being distracted back home. Meditation and Buddhism (its teachings and practices as well as manner of living), had always intrigued me growing up, but I literally got to put that interest into practice during the internship. I struggled with it very much, but kept at it because it felt like something I needed and had been missing in my life for so long. I have always been one to see my mind as both a safe haven as well as a prison. Meditation and its centering on inner thought and effects on the self are some things I would like to explore more thoroughly and incorporate into my own life. I spoke with Dr. Siegle before class today, and I definitely got more insight into narrowing down my topic and which path I want to take in my approach towards Buddhism. However, I still have so much research and reading to do (to educate and inform myself, first and foremost, especially on the basics) that I am afraid I will run out of time on finding resources, as well as run out of time on narrowing down what I actually want to learn more about. Currently, I am thinking about Buddhism, but the topics of food security, sex, linguistics and another good old fallback of development keep popping up in my mind. That’s what I’m thinking about now, unless, I change my topic again in the next two weeks.