News Feed: Students at SAI
Harvard India Student Group Presents #WomenINSPIRE
HISG invites women from across all Harvard schools to come celebrate International Women’s Day with an evening of wine and crackers, fun performances and relaxed conversations. We welcome you to use this space to share stories, songs, dance, poetry and art that fosters sisterhood and solidarity.
When: International Women’s Day, March 8, 2014, 6pm-8pm
Where: Peabody Terrace Common Room
Please RSVP: http://goo.gl/1vwIF2
On February 26, the South Asia Institute Graduate Student Associates (GSAs) hosted an interactive workshop for students considering doing research in South Asia. The GSAs shared their experience doing research in the field, and their diverse backgrounds working with NGOs and government organizations. The workshop was designed to be helpful for students contemplating or preparing for research abroad.
Listen to the full workshop:
Based on the discussion, here are 10 pieces of advice for doing fieldwork in South Asia:
1. Do a lot of research before.
The GSAs all emphasized that preparing for your time in South Asia is important – read up on everything from local culture and customs,the availability of resources, any ethical research guidelines you need to follow, and even appropriate dress, especially for women. Having local connections when you arrive can be very important, and SAI has many contacts that can assist with your research. Don’t be afraid to reach out, even by cold calling.
2. Be patient.
If you are planning on doing any archival research, you may be frustrated by the lack of organization at many institutions. Don’t let this discourage you – the GSAs said that there are so many great resources available and many people just haven’t had the time to sort through all of them.
3. Be flexible.
There is a good chance that things will not go as planned, especially in a place like South Asia. Being flexible is important, as is the willingness to change your research focus based on the progress of your fieldwork. And don’t be worried if your research is taking longer than you expected; according to the GSAs, this is normal for South Asia. Being open-minded to your research methods is also helpful, as some GSAs found that technology and websites were useful resources as well.
4. Invest enough time in a place to build relationships.
Building a personal network is especially important if you are working with people. The GSAs said that you will never know when you may need the help of a local. Whether it’s waiting for hours for access to an archive, dealing with a language barrier, or finding appropriate clothes for a hike the Himalayas, forming solid relationships with locals is important for unexpected events.
5. When building relationships, be strategic.
The GSAs explained that when forming relationships with locals, you should recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Understanding how you can help them – by understanding your own skills that you can offer – can be just as important in understanding how they can help you.
6. Don’t be intimidated by bureaucracy.
If you are doing research with data or government agencies, you will probably have to jump through many hoops to obtain information. One GSA said that India is one of the most data-rich countries for quantitative social science research – you just need to know how to manage the system.
7. Recognize barriers that you cannot change – but also learn to work around them in creative ways.
One GSA explained that although being a woman seemed to garner suspicion and the feeling that she was not being taken seriously in her research placement, she found that it could also be an advantage by making her seem less intimidating, and giving her more access than if she was a man. Recognize these barriers, but don’t let them be an obstacle.
8. If you can, work with a team.
One GSA, who did field research in Pakistan as part of a team, explained that having other researchers in the field to debrief with was helpful for her research. If possible, having a network like this can be valuable.
9. Be observant, and know when to keep your opinion to yourself.
Chances are you will encounter people whose opinions you do not agree with while doing research, especially if you are researching policy or politics. Being observant and an emphatic listener can be helpful for your research.
10. Bring a lot of passport photos.
If there’s one piece of advice that you should take, this is it. You will need the photos for many things, including getting a sim card and a cell phone.
The following GSAs participated: Mariam Chughtai, Ed.D. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Aditya Dasgupta, PhD Candidate, Department of Government, Madhav Khosla, PhD. Candidate, Political Theory, Corrina Moucheraud, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard School of Public Health, Dinyar Patel, PhD candidate, Department of History and Erum Sattar, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School. Shankar Ramaswami, South Asia Institute South Asian Studies Postdoctoral Fellow, moderated the workshop.
The goal of the SAI Graduate Student Associates is to establish a community of peers to support original and independent research on South Asia by doctoral students at Harvard.
Each Graduate Associate is awarded a research stipend, and offered a desk space and computer as space permits, on the 4th floor of the CGIS South Building. SAI invites proposals in any discipline, field, or school in South Asian Studies and encourages work in/on all of South Asia as well as the study of South Asia in larger connective contexts.
The deadline to apply is this Friday, March 7 at 3:00 PM.
The Boston Children’s Museum and the Harvard India Student Group seek volunteers to help with the Diwali Celebration at the Museum on Sunday, October 27 from 10 – 3:30 pm.
Museum visitors will be invited invited to participate in various activities led by the student volunteers, including making a crown for Sita and Rama, whose homecoming and coronation is remembered each year by the lighting of lamps in observation of Diwali. Other activities include crafting a diya from egg cartons and aluminum foil, creating a rangoli using chalk, and exploring the flavors of Indian spices. There will also be an opportunity for children to try on saris.
To sign up to volunteer, contact Ishani Mehta, Harvard India Student Group Co-President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past weekend, South Asia Institute’s 2013 Prasad Fellowhip grant recipients gathered for a lunch along, with Mukesh Prasad and several 2012 recipients, to share stories and experiences from their time abroad. The Prasad Fellowship is given to Harvard undergraduate students for hands-on, in-region experience working with non-profit and development organizations in South Asia. This year, with the generous support of the Prasad family, the South Asia Institute funded eleven students from various disciplines to contribute towards and learn from some of the most innovative and impactful initiatiatives.
Mukesh Prasad graduated in 1993 from Harvard College. He is an Associate Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology at Weill Cornell Medical College and is an Associate Attending Otolaryngologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. His clinical interests include the management of sinus disease, including advanced endoscopic sinus surgery, as well as the treatment of sleep apnea, and other ear, nose, throat, and head neck disorders.
2013 Prasad Fellowship Recipients
Dipona Bandy, 2014 Social Studies: Conducted thesis research on transnational and national approaches to feminist organizing around sexual violence in India.
Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, 2015 Philosophy: Interned at VidyaGyan, a leadership academy for the most promising underprivileged students of rural Uttar Pradesh.
Tabata de Pontes, 2016 Government: Interned at Mission Apollo assisting with after-school curriculum development in Pune, Maharashtra.
Michael Drumm, 2015 Neurobiology: Conducted research at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India.
Marcelle Goggins, 2014 Human Development: Teacher at Biology and Chemistry teacher at Taktse International School in Sikkim, Nepal.
Victoria Gu, 2015 Computer Science: Interned at Jana Care, a small tech start-up in Bangalore, India.
Muhammad Sarib Hussain, 2015 Neurobiology: Worked at Interactive Research and Development, a non-profit public health research group in Karachi, Pakistan.
Shengxi Li, 2015 Social Studies: Interned at the Bangaldesh Legal Aid and Services Trust in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Corinne Maguire, 2015 Human Evolutionary Biology: Studied neurotransmitters in honeybees at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India.
Bharath Venkatesh, 2016 Social Studies: Consulted for the NGO arm Dishtree, a social enterprise that combats poverty in rural India in Noida, India.
Darshali Vyas, 2014 Social Studies: Completed thesis research on participatory healthcare as a means of rights advancement with the Self Employed Women’s Association in Ahmedabad, India.