How do I approach organizations about researching them/their clients?
October 5, 2013 3:29 PM Subscribe
I'm working on research related to a specific immigrant population and I'm not sure what to do to get to know people in that community, but I figure organizations that work with them might be a good place to start. Unfortunately I'm really shy and I need guidance or a script on how to do this so I don't avoid it forever. If you've worked at an organization like this or have done similar research, how do you start?
posted by Papagayo to education (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a socially anxious anthropologist and I'm not sure what to do. I have a few different organizations in mind but I feel like a weirdo or a voyeur or a bother if I approach organizations or, even worse, individuals. I'm in a foreign country and have no academic advisor so I'm completely lost and I'm starting to feel really useless and incompetent.
The big thing is that I don't want to simply chill at the office and have informal conversations with the staff (although I would like that too!). I'm here on a grant and all my time is directed towards my research in this field, so I would really like to give something back to these organizations too if possible. I don't speak the primary language here (although I speak quite a bit of the language this community speaks) so things like teaching casual local language courses aren't going to work. Should I mention the grant I'm here on (it's prestigious to those who know of it but meaningless to most)? Is it good to mention that I'd be interested in volunteering somehow if I'd be of any use? I feel kind of deceitful if I make it sound like it's just the agency I'm interested in when I would like to speak to actual community members, but what if that's frowned upon in the organization?
I'm not sure what is better--an email, via the 'contact us' pages? a phone call (to who within an agency)? a direct visit? Adding to my anxiety is that at the start of my time here, I had a good coincidental interaction with the head of a student organization for this community, but since then my e-mail and my voicemail have not been answered. I'm worried that I bothered them and it's really paralyzing me from doing anything else. I'm afraid I'm too shy for this field :(