I have been think a lot about what I’ve been expecting throughout this summer, and how my experience has either met or not met these expectations so far.
I will certainly say that I did not expect to be spending so much of my time inside of an office. While I have spent a lot of time talking to community members, I have spent more time going through data, reading policy, and drafting my report. I think that it would have been more helpful for me to be living with the community that I am researching, seeing as there is more opportunity that way for me to interact with migrant parents and children. However, most migrant populations live on the outskirts of Shanghai, and making the 2-hour commute to the office everyday would not be feasible. Therefore, I think my system of traveling out every few days is working alright for me, if not a little bit draining.
This past week and a half have felt particularly office-heavy, since schools just let out for the summer and it will be at least another week before most migrant summer programs begin. Therefore, I have been spending more time in the office than usual, which has probably prompted these listless feelings. I have been able to get to know my colleagues better, though, so that has been a big plus. I’ve also been able to get a lot of work done in laying out my report, so this time has been extremely helpful.
Starting next week, I will be spending most of my days at migrant summer programs, either teaching English or just volunteering. I expect the sedentary feeling of being in an office all day to disappear soon.
I am also beginning to appreciate how much more comfortable I am with reading Chinese. I’m now able to read policy documents describing the intricacies of how migrants can access education in different cities with relative ease. Of course, there are still some characters that I don’t know, but I have been spending much less time searching up characters in my dictionary app. Idioms still sometimes trip me up, though. In that case, sometimes I just end up asking my coworkers what they mean. They have been more than willing to teach me about Chinese four-word idioms.
I have been very happy with my time at Collective Responsibility so far. I had very few expectations when coming here, other than just learning more about my research topic and culture. I think that I have definitely hit these two goals, and I can’t wait to continue with this project for my last three weeks.