Roberta HannahUndergraduate Student, Columbia University
- Columbia University
- United States of America
About Roberta Hannah
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I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes
Channels contributed to:Arts & Humanities Research
Rooms participated in:Columbia University Arts & Humanities
Week 4: What challenges and/or difficulties have you encountered and how did you go about resolving them? Speak to a specific challenge you have encountered and some of the ways that you tackled the problem.
As the summer progresses, my work became much more independent than it hard previously. My supervisor has been working remote after some family conflicts occurred, leaving my to self-assign tasks to develop our curriculum. At first, I tried to manage it on my own, but I began to find inspiration scarce. Once I reached my plateau, I decided it was time to reach out to my supervisor, as well as other leadership members around the office to see where my work would best fit. The director of trans services actually allowed me to participate in the Pride Month planning events. Some of these were disrupted because our office lost power for a few days, but even remotely, I was able to arrange deliveries for our graduation and other events. My supervisor also offered suggestions to maximize the impact of our course, so my work has begun to pick up again.
A typical day of my research begins with a run in Riverside Park. Although not inherently connected to my work, I find this helps me focus through the rest of the day as I continue my work. As I settle into my dorm, the library, or any place I find myself at work that day, I always begin ensuring I am up to date on the literature I will be pursuing that day. From here, I quickly transition to the nuts and bolts of course development. From sourcing data and figures, to figuring out ways of presenting material, the rest of my day usually aligns along these lines. While not flashy, I have come to learn that developing a course is, at times, about effort and work. While it doesn’t always appear complex, the simple lessons and ideas presented in classroom are more often than not highly researched, sourced and articulated. A typical day for me has not only been about developing this backbone but learning the structure behind it.
Hey Avi! I definitely relate. I didn't realize how much thinking goes into developing a course until I had to do it. Funny enough, I didn't realize how well you had to understand the material before teaching it. When it came to making the financial literacy materials, I thought I would be fine just making budget templates and whatnot, but so much research and intention has to go into directions, instructional materials, and the handouts. Hopefully, we both can get our teaching certifications by the end of this haha, but I wish you the best.
My typical day includes going into the office at 12. I wake up around 7:30-8 and just do nonsense until then. Normally, I chat the receptionist James when I first get in because he is the "wise old owl" of the organization. He usually comments about the show he's watching and the events we have coming up. I will then go into our computer lab where my desk is and where clients can come in to do work or get assistance with something. I have done less tutoring in these first few weeks as I have been working on our financial literacy program. That project has been taking up most of my day, but around 3:00 pm, we have clients start to come in more. We usually have small conversations about their days and they'll give me advice as the youngest in the office, but it's always really insightful. I finish up around 6:00 pm and head back to campus.
Does your research incorporate any outside participation, such as interviews or ethnographic observation? If so, how do you plan on approaching research participants or spaces in an effective and, most importantly, ethical manner? If you are not conducting ethnographic research, what communities do you engage in your research, and how have they informed your project?
A lot has changed over the past week! Originally, I was hoping on conducting interviews in the Boston area with local queer folks, but as I dived deeper into conversations with my mentors, I think I want to situate this project less on local queer experiences and more broadly on queer experiences interacting between tech developers and creators (since that is the general focus of Queer in AI and I am getting more direction there). I think this is a cleaner and more directed goal with regards to developing standards of use for artificial neural networks.
How do you find your own self coming through in your research, if it all? Is your project more suited towards the invisibility of the researcher, or is it a project that would benefit from the researcher being more present (whatever ‘present’ means)?
This question is a bit challenging to tackle. The invisibility of the researcher (me!) is in some ways ideal, in some ways impossible; in some ways undesirable, in some ways inevitable. The end product of this summer's work is invariably biased by my own experiences in tech, the particular fields and methods I'm interested in, and my own negotiations with identity. This is good to recognize. This also allows me to provide my own ontological perspective of how artificial neural networks ought to be used and endows the standard of use with a deeper understanding of one particular position than a truly invisible paper would. Yet this may also blind the final result to all other positions from which I could have spoken. This is why collaboration with others is key and I'm hoping to ask my mentors for advice in this.
I definitely feel your project shift! I am currently building the curriculum for our financial literacy program that we hope to start and I realized that while I wanted to think in terms of purely New York, it would be more efficient to think of the global, or at least national, queer community. This meant redoing a lot of the statistical and research work I had done, but it does give a more clear path that can then be specified. I am not in the tech world, but I wish you the absolute best and I hope we can talk soon!
Week 2: If you are doing a leadership-in-action or community engagement project, how do you interact with community members, and what kind of conversations are you having? How do you connect with this community of people, and what common cause do you find?
For my project, I work within the resource clinic that we have. This requires a lot of interaction with Black LGBTQIA people within New York City. Often times when they come in, they are looking for career and financial assistance so I have to assist with resumes, contacting food banks, etc. In my interactions with our clients, I find myself learning a lot about their lives. They all have lived very full lives and while I help them, we exchange gossip, life stories, and advice. It is extremely refreshing to be able to converse with people outside of my own generation, background, or university. They often ask me how I stay on track, which is interesting given that I am only 20 and still learning about the world, but I realize we have that in common. The intense oppression they face often set many of them back and in the same way I am learning how to navigate as a queer Black woman, they are also. We are all just trying to make our way as unscathed as possible.
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?
This year, I will be working a Destination Tomorrow, a Black LGBTQ+ organization in the Bronx. While I did a research project last year, the educational, economic, and health disparities uncovered in my research last summer motivated this transition into the grassroots world. With Dr. Moore, I work on In the Shadow of Sexuality: Social Histories of African American Lesbian and Gay Elders, 1950-1979. That book project was a rewriting of the previous narratives of what Black LGBTQ+ life encompasses and entails. Through those six weeks, my work highlighted the challenges one faces at the intersection of race and sexuality inequality. Many of the respondents reported high rates of unemployment and mental health difficulties due to inaccessibility to proper academic and health resources and educations. My work made it impossible to ignore the challenges facing the Black LGBTQ+ community. With this, I decided to dedicate my summer working in the queer Black Mecca, the Bronx. The heart of ballroom, activism, and culture, New York City is where the community’s heart is. Destination Tomorrow works to empower all of its clients and students to further develop their community. We provide academic assistance, career development, and health referrals. I hope that the work I do this summer will work to alleviate the gaps I found previously.