Elaine LeeUndergraduate, Columbia University
- Columbia University
- United States of America
I am a/an:
Area of Expertise
Rooms participated in:Columbia University
As you set out on your research or community engagement project, do you find yourself experiencing any worries or insecurities about saying something that’s already been said? How do we as researchers and/or volunteers learn to ignore those insecurities or, better yet, use them to our advantage?
I’ve just started my Laidlaw research after a stint in Summer A classes, one of which was a psychology course that drilled into my head the value of replication in research and, yes, saying what’s already been said. Even though this is my very first week at my internship at FHI 360, working on the intersections of contraception and menstruation, I’ve already encountered several of the same talking points I used and wrote about in my research last summer when it comes to menstrual health—things like the need to focus materials on populations beyond adolescent girls; the ways that menstrual health gets both siloed and spread out across many different fields (both an advantage and a disadvantage); the need to educate and inform everyone in a community about menstruation, not just those who actually experience it. Yes, these might all be things I’ve heard before, but I don’t mind—one, because it means I actually know what I’m doing here and have the necessary basis of knowledge (a step up from last summer!), and two, because though we’re discussing the same things, the audiences FHI 360 is trying to reach—community health care providers, menstruators themselves—are very different from those that my work last summer was reaching (policymakers and academics), and both sets of people need to hear the things we’re saying. So yes, though it’s familiar ground, it’s in a new framework and reaching new people!
If your project this summer differs from your project last summer, has last summer’s project influenced your project this year, and if so how? If your project is different, what tools have you developed to help you work on this project?
My work this summer is both different from and similar to the work I did last summer: same field, entirely different context (public health lens, a massive organization, different target audiences, etc.). Without my work last summer, however, I would never have gotten to where I am—I doubt I would have even really thought much about the concept of menstrual health in a public health context at all. As it stands, though, I’m using so much of what I learned last summer to guide me through this internship now: the basis of knowledge I gained; my ability to qualitatively code; practice writing papers, memos, and analyses; and (more or less) the confidence to dive into this work headfirst.
Thank you for sharing! I think you make a really good point with target audiences. The content of an idea might be very well known in certain circles, but it is also super important to frame it in a new way so that it reaches different people.
Sometimes, I do worry that my ideas are unimpressive and too routine to be useful. However, having a supportive boss and team has helped me combat these worries. People on my team are always there to give detailed feedback on specific aspects of my ideas, helping me learn that there is no such thing as a completely "unoriginal" idea. In addition, as an artist, I also know that inspiration is hard to predict. It can take years or seconds to develop an idea, and everything we see, hear, and interact with can have an intangible impact. Just as there is no completely unoriginal idea, there is no purely "original" idea. Stopping short of condoning plagiarism, maybe a good idea is just whatever works.
My project this year does have certain similarities to my project from last year, but major aspects are different. Instead of starting a public health campaign and doing research, I'm working at an established nonprofit. However, many features of my work (communicating to donors, making infographics and impact reports) are still the same.
- How has your understanding of leadership changed from our workshops on this topic (or has it)?
I really enjoyed Pamela’s workshops and think that what stuck with me the most was the co-active multidimensional model of leadership. That is not to say that prior to this week I had a “only-one-way-of-leading” understanding of leadership, but the way she laid out the model helped me a lot in identifying what my strengths in a leadership position are and what I could work on a bit more.
- As you consider your research project, what questions or challenges are forefront in your mind? What first steps do you intend to take to start your project?
Because I have no access to Avery Library and physical books/catalogues, I was having a hard time finding resources and artwork images that suited my original research plans. I had to shift my project’s focus from early modern art to contemporary art, and although I’m super excited about where my research is going, I’m afraid of the challenges this change may bring. Modern art just makes sense to me, I’m very familiar with it, and the way primary sources come into play seems natural to me. Contemporary art is… sometimes weird, and it is definitely out of my academic comfort zone. For instance, for a part of my project I’ll be dealing with performance art, a practice I find deeply interesting but to which I’ve only been formally exposed to through a couple museum visits and a 60-minute lecture. That will undoubtedly be challenging, but I’m optimistic that the learning and growth will be greater than the difficulty. By working on contemporary rather than modern art, I’ll also have the opportunity of engaging with the representation of issues that affect my home country in a more direct and relevant way in the present and perhaps even of talking to the artists whose works I’ll be researching (turns out my faculty mentor is Facebook friends with one of them!).
I’ve also been reflecting a lot on how we think, write and conduct research about the history of art when it’s still being written. How does this research practice differ from investigating art produced hundreds or even thousands of years ago? Next week I’ll be assembling the corpus of images of the specific artworks I’ll be working with, gathering information about the social and political background of gender violence and feminicide in Latin America, and figuring out what a research model on contemporary art may look like.
I imagine with contemporary art, how and where the work was presented or meant to be presented might also send important messages to the viewer (maybe it was a statue meant to be displayed in the corner of the room so that part of it is obscured, etc). I'm curious as to how you can analyze this context when viewing the artwork through a screen.
1. I learned that leadership isn't necessarily leading from the front/being the first one to charge into battle. Leading from behind/beside/field are also valid types of leadership. These sessions also reminded me that although we often call people "natural born leaders," this trait is trained.
2. I will finish making the three graphics I'm currently working on (mask fit is important, how to wear a mask properly, how to improve mask fit). I foresee challenges in making animated videos because I don't have an idea of the actual SPECIFICS I want to address. To address this issue, I will continue gathering data from kids in my community to get an idea of what questions I can answer in the videos.