"The GIRTA was essential to my research because it provided an avenue for me to immerse myself with the people who are at the heart of the project."

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Travel Report: Biftu Yousuf

Biftu Yousuf, a Master's student in Criminology and Health Sciences, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA) to further her research in metropolitan areas in Canada. 

October 05, 2017

My fieldwork for my thesis research was made possible by the generosity of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in granting me a Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA). 

My research looks at Oromo conceptions of well-being, the factors that contribute to their realization, and the obstacles that impede it.  Oromos are an Indigenous group of peoples living in the horn of Africa (predominantly resident in Ethiopia) and in the diaspora.  They have a long history of struggle against colonization that creates a challenging context in which to strive for well-being.  Canada has been a common destination and safe haven for many persecuted Oromo people. 

Receiving the GIRTA in the summer of 2016 allowed me to actively engage in meaningful fieldwork on well-being among Oromos who reside in Canada.  I travelled to Oromo diasporas in four metropolitan areas in Canada to participate in select Oromo community social events and to connect with interviewees.  As a participant, I was able to fully engage in the prescribed activities of the specific events alongside the participants (i.e. members of the Oromo diaspora in Canada), and observe practices of well-being among these community members. 

I was placed at the center of the action where I could see as well as hear what was going on within the setting.  This provided a way to check for nonverbal expressions of well-being, witness how well-being was performed in group settings, determine what topics participants discussed in community settings, and check definitions of terms that participants used during their interviews. 

The GIRTA was essential to my research because it provided an avenue for me to immerse myself with the people who are at the heart of the project.  It also allowed me to stay in the field until the point of data saturation.  The advantage of adhering to such practices is that it encouraged the collection of collaborative, participant-centered data.  Consequently, the rich and insightful data that was produced has formed the basis for my theses, an MA in Criminology and MSc in Health Sciences.

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