Fulbright Meets FPV in Batey Libertad & Monte Llano
Saludos a todos,
For my first post I wanted to first just quickly introduce myself and my work in Batey Libertad and with Futbol Para la Vida. My name is Chelsea McGuire and I am a Fulbright scholar studying HIV/AIDS health culture in bateyes, primarily in the Cibao and North-coastal regions of the Dominican Republic.
I arrived to the D.R. at the end of August 2009 and have been living in Batey Libertad (also part-time in Santiago) ever since. My involvement in FPV in multifaceted. First, I identified the program as the perfect vehicle for my research. If I was interested in HIV-related health culture, what better way to access that information than to participate with a HIV prevention program that works in the same communities where I am researching? The idea is the take advantage of the fact that a FPV program is something that is noticed, and talked-about by the entire community. It is in those conversations, stimulated by FPV, that people express their opinions, beliefs, and perspectives on HIV, AIDS and health.
My research methods also involve working with local research assistants, who will be participating in what is known as ‘conversational journaling.’ Some of the FPV trainers expressed interest in joining my research team, further connecting me to the FPV program by bringing them on as my assistants.
Based on these two initial connections, combined with a few great opportunities for FPV that came to me through some of my research affiliations, I took on the role as a volunteer coordinator for FPV during my first 4 months here. As I will describe in the next few blogs, we are now on our way of establishing a partnership with Peace Corps, thanks to some great meetings and demonstrations done by the FPV trainers. My remaining 5 months I am expecting to take a less active role in the coordination work for FPV, especially since one of our highly experienced trainers, Yanlico Munesi, has expressed interest in taking on more responsiblity in that area. I will be continuing to participate, but will focus more heavily on my research responsibilities to the Fulbright program in the months to come.
Which brings me to my final connection with FPV: the program is also a research target for my study. As a way of ‘giving back’ to the program, I want to provide a second scientific study that looks at the effectiveness fo the program. Unlike the work Zak Kaufman already completed, I will be conducting a purely qualitative study, using methods such as participant observation, conversational journaling and focus groups. Furthermore, as opposed to focusing strictly on the impact and effectiveness of the program on the adolescents who have participated in FPV, my research will be looking more at the community-wide impact of the program, focusing on adult non-participants.
I will be continuing this series of posts to brief all of FPV and Fundacion de Libertad’s supporters, participants and any other interested-folk on what has been going on with the program in the past 4 months and where we are going in this new year.
Let me finish by saying that it has been a privledge to work with the talented FPV trainers and the FPV staff throughout 2009 and I am very much looking forward to continuing our work together in 2010 and beyond.
Thanks and Happy New Year to all!