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Final Ethnography

Anthropology has always captivated me. I have been very anxious to study this branch, since many years. As soon as I got a chance, I took it. It is a sheer joy to study the cultural development of human race and how different cultures have developed in different geographic areas. Such studies are not complete without experiencing the various colors of culture. As a part of my studies, I was supposed to learn about the life history in relation to the effect cultural inputs have had on him/her. The procedure was to locate experienced person, who can understand and relate his/her experiences in a

matured style and give precise and appropriate answers to the same. These experiences were supposed to be related to a particular time span of one’s life. I had chosen one of the most important time spans of one’s life- the transition from student life to a professional. The focus was on the changes experienced by an individual during the initial years of one’s professional life, from a cultural point of view. An important aspect of this study of mine is that the experiences mentioned herein are viewed in retrospect. This implies that

these experiences are a part of one’s life, many years’ back. The person chosen by me for this study is a relative of mine, a lady in her late thirties, with a long and outstanding career in social sciences and social work. On completion of her Masters in social sciences, she had joined a Non Government Organization and her very first posting was in a distant yet culturally very rich country, India. She spent a few years there and had come back as a changed personality- a much more relaxed lady, with a fuller and comprehensive understanding of life and its complexities.

I have witnessed the change in her bearing capacities, ever since she returned from India, more than a decade back. She is a fuller human being, able to understand the other person and appreciate him. As a close relative I have known her since her childhood. Today, she looks after international operation of a particular department of the United Nations related to social welfare. I had enough reasons to select such a matured lady as my respondent for this study. This essay is a brief analysis of the entire process of the study, which I made, on this topic.

This ethnography consisted of five basic steps. The first step included learning of anthropological terms and vocabularies. This included terms like: Cultural anthropology, real culture, ideal culture, Ethnography, Participant Observation, Informant, Tradition bearers, Rapport, Interview, Life History, Etic, Emic, Ethnocentrism, Cultural Relativism, sub culture, Consent form, Ethical Standards, Data, and Going Native. Once I was well acquainted with these terms, the next step was to take the consent of my informant. It was a simple process of filling up one page form, wherein she is briefed to

the purpose of the project, its contents and the style of interrogation. In his case the style was an interview. She also told about rights as the informant, and her privacy guaranteed. Having gone through the conditions, she gives her consent to be interviewed. The name of the informant is Joanna Albano. The interview was scheduled, keeping in view the mutual convenience on both the sides. The busy schedules of the informant were kept in mind while scheduling the interview, and it was held at her residence when she was on a leave and relatively

relaxed. The homely environment helped in her responding in a very informal and free manner. I also learnt a lesson from this interview. If one wants the respondent to open up without any inhibitions, it is necessary to provide an environment which is informal. I am rather sure, the Joanna would not have responded the way she responded in my interview, if it was held at her posh UNO office. As our talk proceeded, Joanna’s face blushed with joy. It was evident, she enjoyed revealing her experiences from the bottom of her heart. I

would also like to add that Joanna was lucky to get her first job in India. She came back as a transformed person. Having been born and brought up in a country which does not have any culture of its own, she got a chance to live and work in a country which has one of the oldest cultures of human civilization. During the interview, Joanna was asked three questions related to how her first job was affected by the cultural aspects of the environment where she worked. The answers were all very detailed, and had a personal touch in them.

The culture of India had not only affected her first job, but her whole life. It had changed her outlook and attitude towards life, in general. I had asked her three questions. The first of them was related to the changes she had experienced in her work environment during the last phase of her student life and during the initial phase of her first job. Her reply was very interesting. The major difference, according to her, was the ethnicity. At the University in the US, she revealed that she had companions who hailed from varied ethnicities.

Ethnicity is defined as a group of people having similar ancestry, or are recognized on the basis of their cultural, linguistic or territorial similarities. As a student, she said, she had companions from Japan, China, India, Europe and Latin America. Their class represented the whole world in a small group. Communication was difficult as many of them had difficulty with the medium of instruction, which was all in English. The first phase of her career, showed her a different scene altogether. There, the entire group was of Indian ethnicity, with strong

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