Nothing is ever certain until…umm…well here probably never, but it does seem increasingly likely that I will soon have a research visa. (Just writing that requires me to go through an elaborate ritual of touching wood and crossing body parts.)
I know, I know, I’ve been here for 4 months. I’m not going to bore you again with the details of the process I’ve been through, save to say that it has taken more time and more money and more patience and more personal growth than I ever thought possible. And I have significantly more grey hairs than I did 4 months ago. Remarkably though, I’m only 2 months behind schedule and I’m still fascinated by my subject and loving living in Laos and I’ve made some good friends and contacts in the process.
I am also now ready to go. I have a group of between 15 and 20 young adults here in Vientiane who have expressed an interest in helping me with my research and also groups in 2 or 3 other locations who are interested in a more limited involvement. I’ve decided to shift my focus slightly, at least initially, to young people who volunteer with local non-profit associations that explicitly seek to promote youth wellbeing. I’m interested to explore the links between the aims of these organisations and the experiences of the young people. I’ve been loving spending time getting to know these young volunteers. We’ve already done some introductory sessions and teambuilding activities and (fingers crossed, wood touched) we’ll be doing research training on Saturday and our first proper research workshop the Saturday after. We’ve agreed to 4 half-day workshops initially…and then we’ll see where we are at, if people are still interested and how we can take it forward. I’ll also be doing individual interviews with everyone who is up for it. And I’m sure none of it will go as smoothly as this paragraph suggests!
But now I hit an ethical problem. (*Chortles at self* – as if I don’t manage to turn every moment of my life into an ethical problem.) How to write about all of this on here and maintain ethical integrity? The internet opens up one whole can of ethical worms and collaborative research opens up an alternative can of ethical creepy crawlies. I was going to go on and write here about what I perceive some of those issues to be…but as I’ve drafted and redrafted this without being able to get it right I have decided that I’m going to wait. We’re going to talk about ethics at the workshop on Saturday – so after that I will return and give you a collaborative view…