The two weeks of summer school were very fruitful and intense for me. I would like to write a text describing the days in Kalloni, the interesting things that happened inside and outside of Metochi, the idea of my project and how it developed.
I think that my text will cover mostly my experience there as well as my struggle to find and carry out a project rather that information about the subject I worked on. I believe that in the summer school we learn more things about doing ethnography and not so many about the fields themselves.
I regret not keeping enough notes during my days in Metochi. The experience was very intense and full of information and now I find it hard to remember my feelings and my thoughts from that period. Some of them are coming back to me when I close my eyes, I concentrate and try to relive my days there. But I know that a lot of them will just vanish in the past (I picture it as a void) since I cannot keep them all alive in my memory.
The basic themes I want to cover in my text are (maybe they will intertwine with each other):
-My project, How I developed my idea? How did I approach the people? How is it connected with the ideas of art, ethnography and pedagogy? In my project I tried to explore the process of oral transmissions of songs. I approached people of Kalloni and other villages asking them to sing me a song. Among other things, their reactions were very interesting and I will analyze them in the text.
-My privileges. I was living in the island for six years before the summer school and I am speaking Greek! How did that affect my experience there and the project development? I also want to write something about the experience of interpreting which was totally new for me.
-What did I learn? There were two basic things that made me review the fields of anthropology and pedagogy. First, the way that we “returned” to the people of Kalloni the information that they had given us was very interesting and useful to me. Inviting people to our event and showing them what we have done, allowing them at the same time to interact with it was a very honest and useful idea.
The second was the way that the teachers act and existed (?) around us (the students). I had never experienced a context were the teachers are assisting with a way that has nothing to do with classrooms or a “teacher’s status”. Even the school’s program itself was flexible and was adapting to our needs. The way the whole summer school took place including the presence of the teachers was a critical review to pedagogy and the educational process. I want to write about these things which were totally new to me and I am still trying to absorb.
I will try to create some audio files using the material from Lesvos with people singing to/with me. I want to combine recordings of them singing for me and recordings of me singing their song now, alone, in a different city (Thessaloniki).
Thanks for your post. It does somehow seem like a life ago when we were together in Lesvos, time moves fast when we leave island life. You say you didn’t take notes in Metochi, which is often a common reality of fieldwork experiences, especially when we blend “life” and “fieldwork.” That said, your memories are valuable, and often the things that stick with you a few weeks later are those of most value so it will be good to do the work to retrieve and document your reflections now. Take advantage of the “now” though, as with every passing week those memories will fade/change, transform and you may want to remember some details. Focus especially perhaps on details of encounters, and try to write those down. I would encourage you to focus your text around your search for songs. As you reflect on your privileges with language and cultural knowledge, or on the pedagogical style of teaching, I encourage you to do so in support of your story of searching for songs in Kalloni. How did your relationships with teachers shape how your approached your project, how did your language and cultural knowledge aid you, or perhaps at times inhibit you from getting started and making these connections. I would love to hear you think and reflect on what it is to be in song with others, to take relationships to another level through songs, and to use singing and song sharing as a way of connecting. I invite you to reflect on all these things, and to do so using the recordings you have, lyrics, recordings you find online, how can you bring the story to life using the different media you collected or that you can find… Maybe part of your piece can be teaching your reader a song, what might that look like? Have fun and look forward to reading your work.
Thank you for your post and reflections! I see that what I wanted to say, Jennie has already responded (just better); that you never feel your notes are good enough (even when you have field notes), that it is never too late to reflect on an experience, and that my recommendation for wrapping up a description and reflection in your project, although it has many interesting dimensions, would be to give the songs center stage and let them form the core of your text. Such as:
– Your experience of learning and singing the songs
– the search for songs
– the song lyrics and meanings (and perhaps what they bring different listeners and singers in terms of feelings / associations / stories)
– and your recordings of the songs themselves, so that we can listen to them.
Remember, for the exam you only submit about 2,500 words (ca 6 pages), so finding a core to work with is important. To me, it looks like that core was / is ‘learning songs from people in Lesvos’, but you must of course define this yourself. Then other reflections could be added around this core, if you have more space.
One thing I have noticed from previous summer courses, is that sometimes, when students return from developing their work in Lesvos, they just keep going with their exploration, elaborating new focus and new perspectives. To some extent that is part of the reflections, but the way I think we could work better in this phase is to try to look at what is already there, find a core point, and keep it simple. Your songs and experiences of learning these songs are so rich in themselves!
Best of luck, and let us know if you need help with any of these reflections!
Thank you for your comments! They are very helpful. I think I will be able to submit a text in the following days. I know it will be delayed anyway but I will try to do it as soon as possible so you have some time to give me more feedback for the third step.