It has been a while since I wrote something here and since last time much has happened. The course in Hoi An sadly has ended and we have all gone to different places around the world. Still, we are not quite done yet, as we do have to finish our Home Exam which is due the 30th of November. So now I am in Hanoi working on this until I leave for Laos. Nevertheless, I did say that I were to write about some of our experiences in Hoi An, and today I will tell you all about our field trip in Ka Tu Village.
During our third week in Hoi An, we learned that we were to conduct a field research in where we were going to interview different people about different topics. We were provided with some information about the village and were told that we were going to spend the night. After being divided into about 9 groups, we were given a topic and were asked to find a “research question” we would try to answer through our interviews. Our group got “migration” as our topic, and after a while we ended up with this question: “Does the population of Ka Tu village want their children to move out of the village, and will those who move return?” The plan were to interview 2 groups, where we would interview parents and have a questionnaire with school children. In the end this worked out quite alright, although it, as it usually goes, did not quite go as we expected haha.
Ka Tu is a small village residing a couple of hours outside of Hanoi and is the home of an ethnic minority in Vietnam. This is a village that primarily rely on farming to generate income, but as it has not been untouched by the prevalent process of globalization, it therefore also relies on tourism. When our class found out about this, there was a lot of skepticism and questions raised about how ethical this visit actually was. Prior to this visit we had learned about the effects of tourism, and how it can contribute to eradicate people’s cultures and way of life. Did we just contribute to this village’s reliance on tourism? What right did we have to come in and ask personal questions about their lives, and sit down in their living rooms and pry into their income, health and poor living conditions? Were they completely aware of the reason why we were there? And was it ethical to come in, interview and take pictures without knowing of how these interviews might affect the people we talked to? Could it damage them psychologically?
We left an early Thursday morning from Balance Café, both nervous and excited about how this visit would be. We had one stop on our way to Ka Tu, where we got to meet our translators, and met some adorable puppies and a giant snake. Don’t worry, he didn’t bite. When we arrived at the village we were first allowed to walk around the village and explore, and thereafter we had a meeting with the Village Chief. He talked about the origin of the village, how they lived their lives, the impact of tourism and how one could become a village leader. When asked about whether women could be village leaders, this resulted in laughter of the villagers, and the Chief said that “women were not suitable to be leaders, and women were the source of all conflicts” – so no, women could not be leaders. Haha, so yeah, go patriarchy! Beside this though, the leader was quite nice and colorful.
After the meeting we started on our interviews and our group managed to interview 3 mothers. This process was a little difficult as there was not many that wanted to talk to us for different reasons. Many were working, a little skeptical to us, a bit shy or couldn’t speak Vietnamese. It seemed like many had no clue why we were there and that they hadn’t gotten any information about our visit. However, the interviews we hade were really interesting. The interviews ended due to pouring rain and we hung out in the main room until dinner. Dinner was prepared by the villagers and consisted of sticky rice, tofu, vegetables, meat, etc. After dinner the villagers invited us to dance with them and after this festivity, we were provided sleeping quarters.
Summary: Interesting and confusing day full of hospitality and beauty.
Highlights: Playing with puppies and dancing in the mud.
The next day we went to another village not too far away from Ka Tu, and our group visited a school close by with hope of successful results. Although we planned to visit a high school or secondary school, we were dropped off at a primary school which lead to a bit of confusion. The school-day had also just ended, but we still managed to get answers from some of the students. In the beginning, they were a bit shy, but after letting them try out my camera, they took me in with open arms and dragged me behind the school to show me their favorite spot to take pictures. This resulted in a hilarious photoshoots and new friends :’)
After lunch at the village, the trip was completed and we were on our way back home.
Summary: Interviews, 8-year-old friends and contemplation.
Highlights: Unplanned photoshoot and learned kids the Macarena.
My new friends :’)
Overall, despite questions of ethics, this was such a meaningful, fun and informative trip! We managed to conduct somewhat successful interviews, meet so many nice people and got an insight in lives quite different from our own.
Until next time,