Learning Through Conversation

Before arriving in Grenada, I was a tad anxious about conducting one-on-one qualitative interviews with locals at the market. As an epidemiologist, I’m used to numbers, quantitative methods, and structured questionnaires. Furthermore, I was nervous about how to best strike up conversation with a population I knew little about.  But the beauty of qualitative research lies in communication. Researchers have the opportunity to establish a rapport with interviewees through the simple act of listening.

After a full day of conducting interviews and engaging in meaningful conversations with the locals, I felt inspired and humbled by these incredibly welcoming people. I conversed with one woman who reminded me of my grandmother. She wore a Disneyland Resort hat and spoke fondly of her kids in the United States and of her late husband. Another woman, who runs a spice shop with her daughter, advocated for female independence and for parents to have a constant dialogue with their children about sexual health. But perhaps the most remarkable conversation I had was with a young man who owned a nearby restaurant in the market. He spoke of family life, gender dynamics, and his thoughts on Grenada’s changing societal structure. Thirty minutes went by and I was still eager to hear more. At the end of our chat, I told him that if he ever considers doing something other than running a restaurant, he would make a great public health educator.

Although my time in Grenada was short, I have learned a great deal about conducting on-the-ground research in global public health. Today, Ian and I will act as “consultants” and present our research methodology, findings, and recommendations to stakeholders at the Grenada Planned Parenthood Association. There’s more work to be done in the realm of reproductive health practices in Grenada and the Eastern Caribbean, but I am hoping our research will provide valuable insight into these issues.

I’ve included some pictures from my time in Grenada. This country is beautiful, and I don’t want to leave!

photo1_FM

the main market where we conducted research

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public health campaigns at the Ministry of Health

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Ian and me enjoying the view from the hospital

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the beautiful Caribbean Sea at Grand Anse Beach

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