Blog Post 1

What are the top three things you learned during your GSIF trip this summer?

    1. What I learned: I learned the importance of strategic questions when gathering data through questionnaires.
    2. How I learned it: We went into our first round of questionnaires with several questions, some of which were irrelevant (i.e. they were not helping us to advance our research). We then refined our questions so that each question was giving us new information for our project and the future of it.
    3. Why it matters: It is important to ask meaningful questions so that you can use the data you collect to advance the project. It is important to only ask these questions in order to use time and resources efficiently, rather than sifting through the data afterwards to find only a few important data points.
    4. What I will do in light of this: After we refined our questionnaire, each question had a purpose. We will now be analyzing the data and it is helpful that each question will teach us something else.
    1. What I learned: People in Sierra Leone are very open minded
    2. How I learned it: We visited several clinics, villages, and a church. The CHOs in the clinics, the people in the villages, and the Reverend in the church were all welcoming to us. Through our questionnaires, we learned that mothers are very willing to make changes in their children’s diet in order to improve his or her nutrition.
    3. Why it matters: Sierra Leone has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world and it is important for people to be open to making a change so that they can better themselves and their lives.
    4. What I will do in light of this: We will continue advancing our product and business because it seems that this idea will work in Sierra Leone, due to their open mindedness.
    1. What I learned: How to maximize resources
    2. How I learned it: I felt very constrained with the amount of resources we had. We had limited access to translators at first, sometimes had trouble finding a driver to take us to wherever we needed to be, we did not have the same advanced baking equipment that we are used to, and we needed to be price conscious when buying ingredients to bake with. We learned how to handle all of these obstacles in order to progress our project effectively and efficiently.
    3. Why it matters: When working in Sierra Leone, it doesn’t seem that the resources are as plentiful as they are in the United States. In order to create a successful business, it is important to know how to fully take advantage of everything that you do have and maximize your resources and time in order to do so.
    4. What I will do in light of this: We were able to efficiently plan our time and resources so that we were able to complete the tasks we set out to do. I will do this in the future of this project as well.

How did the GSIF trip help facilitate your professional development?

    1. What I learned: I learned how to be flexible and adaptable.
    2. How I learned it: Sometimes things out of our control would go wrong (i.e. the bakery not opening when it was supposed to) and we had to change our plans at the last minute. We were constantly pivoting in order to accomplish the task at hand.
    3. Why it matters: Things don’t always go as planned, especially in Sierra Leone. However, things still need to get done.
    4. How I will make use of this fieldwork experience: We always had plan A, B, C, D, etc. We now know that in the future of this project, we are likely to experience the same type of unpredictability and we must be able to adapt to a changing environment so that our venture can be successful.
    1. What I learned: I improved my communication skills
    2. How I leaned it: People in the United States are very suggestive toward each other and often try to be overly polite. I came into Sierra Leone with the communication skills I use at home, but quickly learned that direct communication works better in Sierra Leone. We learned this through observing the way others speak to each other and follow up with each other.
    3. Why it matters: Without culturally appropriate communication, we would not have been able to accomplish our tasks in Sierra Leone.
    4. How I will make use of this field work experience: As we continue advancing our venture, I know that we have to be direct with people from Sierra Leone and constantly follow up. Even if it seems rude and annoying to us, it is the way that people in Sierra Leone communicate.
    1. What I learned: The importance of individual roles to team work
    2. How I learned it: Originally we did not have specific roles, and with 7 people, it was hard to actually get anything done without having roles. It was very chaotic. However, once Khanjan suggested that we each take responsibility for a certain area, we were able to be efficient and get things done.
    3. Why it matters: With so many tasks and so many people, it is important to be efficient in getting things done and to have proper communication. If the team knows that one person, for example, is responsible for everything with the translators, then other people don’t need to worry about it.
    4. How I will make use of this field work experience: This shows the importance of teamwork, and I know that throughout the rest of my education and career, it is important for me to know how to effectively manage a set of tasks as a team.


How did GSIF help you grow personally?

    1. Area of personal growth: I became less uptight and controlling
    2. How I achieved this: The environment in Sierra Leone is often unpredictable, and in order to be successful in our project, I had to learn how to be patient.
    3. Why it matters: Things in any setting, especially in Sierra Leone, do not always go as planned. It is important to not try to control everything because that is a waste of energy.
    4. What I will do in light of this: I will find a balance in my life of assertiveness and relaxation. I think it will make me a more successful group member and professional.
    1. Area of personal growth: How to properly gain respect
    2. How I achieved this: As an American and a woman, I stick out in Sierra Leone and was not always respected by the locals at first. However, with several interactions, I was able to figure out how to gain the respect of the people around me.
    3. Why it matters: It is very difficult to get anything done if you are not respected. We want our project to be successful, and cannot do that if the people around us are not on board.
    4. What I will do in light of this: I know that women are naturally not as respected as men in the work place. I will be assertive and take on responsibility so that people have no choice but to respect me.
    1. Area of personal growth: Taking responsibility
    2. How I achieved this: The tasks that we set for ourselves had to get done, even if there were set backs. I had to take responsibility for pivoting our approach in order to use our limited time efficiently so that we could accomplish our goals.
    3. Why it matters: Not everything works out the way you plan, and it is often not even your fault. However, in order to be successful, you need to take responsibility for everything.
    4. What I will do in light of this: It is my responsibility to make sure my project is progressing, and regardless of what happens, I will strive to make sure that the project is successful.

One thought on “Blog Post 1

  1. Hi Karli,
    Great, thorough insights. You do a particularly good job explaining the importance of understanding and adapting to different communication styles. Well done!

Leave a Reply