Spring Semester 2015 – Part 2
(Regis students Hayley Gonglaves, Sami Brisson and Natasha Hill share their observations after completing their “Research & Writing in the Community Course” in the Spring of 2015.
They worked with Community Educational Outreach clients tutoring, interviewing and informally sharing opinions during the spring semester. – This second report is from Natasha Hill.)
“Through this course I have learned a lot about conducting research in the community, with the actual people who make up this community we live in. Taking this research course along with my research course for neuroscience I have come to see the vast differences in conducting research in the different fields.
“Our project consisted of making info graphics for Community Educational Outreach, which would be used at marketing and fundraising events to show the public exactly what they do and how vital their services are to the individuals that make up CEO. In making the info graphics we were given a sense of what they wanted and set free. The info graphics consisted of statistics which we can easily get off the internet, but to do the project justice and represent the CEO clients properly we had to take the time to get to know the clients and understand where they were coming from. A vast difference I found in this type of research compared to my research in neuroscience/psychology is the fact that participating and understanding the people that you are working with is encouraged. In this project we worked with marginalized communities who wanted to get their stories out in the world so people would know and understand the truth about the complications of reentry into society they face upon release. Consent was needed of course and confidentiality was kept, however in my other research class due to the nature, everything had to be completely confidential and you act as researcher rather than a human being interested in better understanding humanity.
“In Karen Hacker’s book, Community-Based Participatory Research, she writes “When research is intimately connected to the communities under study, it should enhance the value of research for those communities” (41). Through our work directly with the CEO clients I feel that we could better justly represent them in our info graphics and show just how important it is that these men and women receive their education. Through talking with the clients I better understood how this knowledge provided a basis for them to stay out of our prison system, but how it also benefits society as a whole. This community demographic is one that seems to be overlooked by the public because we have negative stigmas towards these individuals, so our community based project aimed at shedding light on how these men and women made a mistake and our justice system is the culprit, not these human beings.
“While undertaking the task of trying to better understand this population we went to tutor a couple times, however most of the time it turned into us simply talking with many of the men at CEO. Karen Hacker also mentions that “The research process in CBPR can also give voice to vulnerable populations as they are part of the decision making process” (114). Rather then simply sticking to the task of just tutoring, we engaged in other ways to understand these men and one man specifically stated that just talking with people about their experiences is what these men need most. They brought a completely human aspect to a system that does not treat them as human and seems to degrade them even after they have served their sentencing. This humanity was something that I think we desperately tried to portray in our final research project, along with how unjust our justice system is to these men and women who simply made a mistake.
“I was completely happy with the team work in my group. We all worked together well and when needed we communicated our worries or dislikes about things and the team was completely receptive to everybody’s opinions. Our community based research with CEO definitely has shifted how I view research, but also the individuals who have been incarcerated and I now know the challenges of CBR, along with the vast rewards it has on the community and the members we are trying to support.”