Getting started

•20 May 2011 • Leave a Comment

So I’ve been here for about three weeks now. My main accomplishment is translation of my survey. I translated it myself and then a local friend of mine reviewed it for errors. However, the main obstacle I ran into was the length of my survey. On a second visit to the mayor of my local commune, I discussed the survey. He had some good suggestions on how to make the questions more clear and less offensive. But he also mentioned (and I later verified) that the survey would take people 45 minutes to an hour to finish. It seems like every time I ask someone to do my survey they have all sorts of reasons why they can’t do it. The concept of just filling out a survey without over analyzing it doesn’t seem to register with Malagasies. With a goal for my sample size of 300, this was not going to work, so I had to cut it in half and put the easy questions first to see if they can get used circling answers without over thinking it before they get to the more pointed questions. I think now, it should work. I’ll officially launch it on Monday.

In other news, it’s been fun coming back to my mission. I’ve been able to reconnect with several old contacts (members and investigators alike). Some are less active now, others that I expected to be so are going strong. Not too much exciting has happened, but I have enjoyed wandering around the city and soaking in the nostalgia of it all. The rainy season has just finished and it’s still pretty warm so I’ve finally found summer despite Utah’s insistence on cold weather. Probably the worst part of it so far is the internet. I had assumed that I’d have reliable wifi here at the house but instead I’m using mobile broadband. Unfortunately, it’s not the best. I can email and check things on line, but skyping and chatting are hit and miss. Oh well, if that’s the worst I have to deal with I can live with it. I can’t wait to get out to the coast though.

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Total Time Log

•27 April 2011 • Leave a Comment

3655 Min or 61 Hrs

27 April

•27 April 2011 • Leave a Comment

50 Min — Class (April 13)
120 Min — Study for final
60 Min — Final Exam

Maverick in Madagascar by Mark Eveleigh

•15 April 2011 • Leave a Comment

This book is part of a Lonely Planet Journeys series that is presented in a travel diary narrative. It is not fiction but rather is a first person account of trekking through the rural communities of Madagascar’s northwest and western regions.

Mark, a photography journalist, sets off on an adventure to retrace the steps of the ancient and legendary Vazimba people who were supposedly displaced by the first migrants to the large island. Starting in the northeastern tip of the island he treks southwest, buys a steer when he finds that the horses on the island died of some disease, and camps along the way with the ever so hospitable locals. Later he treks from somewhere along the Tsiribihina River across the bandit infested Zone Rouge into the western highlands.

Mark’s trek is not your usual turisty tour of the island. He takes great pains to avoid traditional travel, especially flights. But along the way he is able to become intimately acquainted with the local customs. Aside from the quaint characteristics of the Malagasy people such as their hospitality, simplicity of life, and traditional kabary (oratory) at weddings and other ceremonies, Mark begins to tap into the more mystic side of Malagasy culture. He learns of the vast array of superstitious traditions and the plethora of taboos that exist. He finds that many of these traditions date back to very simple and explainable phenomena. However, as they are practiced today, many of the taboos and other practices are taken very seriously. Every village has their own set of taboos. Whether it is hollering to the rest of the village before retiring to inform everyone that you have a visitor for the night (so that they don’t assume your visitors to be bandits) or peeing in the right direction, each is treated with respect. But when he asks why, he is all too often told simply, “It’s always been that way.”

13 April

•13 April 2011 • Leave a Comment

90 Min — Revising research proposal
150 Min — Class time (April 4, 8, 11)
30 Min — Sending off visa application

3 April

•3 April 2011 • Leave a Comment

30 Min — Combined time for last weeks learning journal submissions

1 April

•3 April 2011 • Leave a Comment

50 Min — Class (March 30)
20 Min — Class (April 1)

 
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