By Hanna Moerland, Master of Public Policy ’15
In a lot of ways, our group was really lucky: as a four-person team who ended up working together on one project, we lucked out that our personalities and interests balanced each other out really well; our accommodations were very comfortable; we had good internet access; and we had access to real coffee (instant just doesn’t cut it sometimes).
The biggest challenge for our group was our intense schedule – I think we all underestimated how rigorous it would be: conducting hours upon hours of interviews and primary research, on top of spending hours in the car each day. As there were four of us, we decided to have four areas of focus in our research – although we hadn’t calculated into that equation the time and effort that goes into tracking down the experts in each of those areas, translating interviews from English to Sinhala or Tamil, and then sometimes translating between Sri Lankan English and American English. We had three main research sites, and by the third one we had a rhythm going that made it easier on each of us, but by then the primary research was done!
This project was a great learning experience. Every aspect of it was an opportunity for our group to engage and exchange information gleaned through work experience and school: everything from reviewing the policy document, focusing our areas of research, creating a policy evaluation framework, working out team communication, conducting interviews, recording data from interviews and primary research, to creating the final deliverables – a presentation and final written report.
In the end our client was impressed with our insight – noting that for outsiders who were there for just three weeks, we picked up on a lot of what is going on – and we got a lot of positive feedback on the format, structure, and findings in our final presentation. At the end of this experience, I’m really proud of all the hard work we put in as a group and the final product that we created.