My name is Sarina Zhou, a 2021 Laidlaw Scholar from Cornell University. I will be sharing some of my experiences with research and updates on our progress on a biweekly basis(most likely, although I may post more), and I also welcome you all to comment/share your research experiences with me! I love learning about other projects and seeing the impact that Laidlaw Scholars are creating!
I am currently doing research on Disability Law in Barbados with Dr. Saleh and two other Laidlaw Scholars from Cornell University. We will be conducting focus group interviews to learn more about the employment experiences of people with disabilities from the perspective of people with disabilities, community service providers, and employers. Considering that there is currently very minimal and fragile framework for disability law in Barbados despite the country ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013, it is essential that we better understand the needs and lived experiences of people with disabilities (in the workplace, education, and daily life) so that we can inform policy changes.
When I first saw this project listed on our university's Laidlaw Scholars page, I knew I wanted to be part of it! I have been passionate about social justice advocacy since the beginning of high school, and I've been active in pursuing juvenile justice reform in my home state of Florida. I want to create a positive impact, serve disadvantaged communities, and pursue my passions -- which is exactly what this current project enables me to do.
I officially started research on June 14th, 2021. I met the whole team, and we hit the ground running. The first week entailed scouring the Internet for research papers, scholarly articles, and news articles about disability law in Barbados, the Caribbean and Latin America, and the world for our literature review. I found several articles about disability law on a global and regional level -- but, few on Barbados (hence, the need for this project). I did, however, find a quite important and substantive article, "Managers’ perceptions of mental illness in Barbadian workplaces: an exploratory study" by Dr. Devonish. But, only an abstract or a short summary of that article was available everywhere I looked. I finally decided it was time to email Dr. Devonish to ask for a full version of his article. (I was actually a bit nervous before sending that email -- wondering if he writes back or if my email seemed too presumptuous. That was not the case at all! Dr. Devonish wrote back very promptly and I am now using that article to write a literature review!)
So, the Moral of the story/ Advice: Don't be afraid to ask! More often than not, authors of research papers WANT to share their work with you! Asking for resources and for help is also an effective way to learn!
I'm on my second week of research now. My teammate, Andrew, and I are writing a literature review on disability law in Barbados based on the sources we have found. It is quite a daunting task, to be frank -- but, it is one that I am very elated to tackle! After all, I always relish a learning opportunity -- and I hope you all find the joy in that, too. :)
Wishing you the best,