this is what i say near the beginning of most of our interviews -- "i understand most (of what is said), but for me speaking is difficult. so today, i'll be taking notes." it seems to work out fine most of the time, but it's far from ideal for me. the interview subjects don't seem to care too much, meg protests that it's still better to have two of us in the interviews, and i'm practicing my listening comprehension like i've never practiced before. but still!
hard to believe, actually, that i'm on a plane a week from right now. (and that between now and then we're flying off to a whole new city for four days.) it's amazing how much work can get done in 19 days if we put our minds to it; also amazing how much is left to do when we return to the states. except: oops, i'll also have to write my APSA paper and finish the prospectus. and move. speaking of which: i have a house! new housemate megan (not to be confused with meghan) is a total rockstar who found a lovely place all by herself.
as for megHan, she and i are working working working, thinking thinking thinking, and simultaneously expending large amounts of energy trying to behave like diplomats: no, we are not here to judge your data. we don't even want your data! no, we are not here as hrdag propagandists. yes, we are actual doctoral students. from a university much like harvard! (here the heavens open and rays of light shine down on our letter of introduction.) beyond that, there's very little that i want to share with the blog about the research here. everyone we've talked to, governmental and non, has received us warmly (even if the vice president's office does make you wear those ugly name tags with the ID photo shot straight up the nose). everyone has been, to our ears and eyes, extremely forthcoming about their data collection strategies, both advantages and challenges. things are complex; everyone tries to believe not hopelessly so.
on the subject of complexity i will say -- and this is also clear to everyone on all sides of the debate -- that the bitterness (intransigence, even) of the political debate on these numbers (during an ongoing conflict, whatever the atmosphere in the cities may be) is of no help to anyone.