Diana Cabrera: Reflections

Going to Taiwan in the summer of 2014 to conduct research was an incredible experience that promoted both learning and personal growth. Through the experience I’ve been able to practice techniques and behaviors that will be invaluable for professional development, my willingness to interact with the international scene has vastly increased, and it has both expanded and deepened my view of the world.

Prior to traveling to Taiwan I had only been outside of the United States to visit family in Dominican Republic (D.R.). That was the only culture I knew of other than the highly intertwined American culture that I call home. What did I expect Taiwan to be like? I thought of New York City with billboards and signs in foreign language, possibly a countryside like that of D.R. along with Florida beaches. My mind was incapable of imagining something not derived from my personal experiences. It also could not capture an entire lifestyle. Taiwanese culture was very refreshing from my perspective because although they had the technologies and advancements from home they found a way to maintain personal interactions. People approached us with a willingness to interact through teaching and learning, embracing differences instead of fearing or rejecting them.

When I envisioned myself working in my desired field it was solely in America. Occasionally there would be business negotiations in well-known places like Japan, but nothing like I can now imagine. After experiencing such an unfamiliar terrain and being enthusiastically welcomed, there is less fear of the unknown. There is less intimidation knowing there are similarities that transcends distance, culture, environment and language. Being exposed to any culture for extended periods of time increases one’s sensitivity to their problems, needs and concerns, which highly impacts business relationships and conducting of international affairs. With the world becoming so interdependent economically, knowledge and familiarity with different regions of the world will be mandatory for anyone seeking to do business in the near future.

During the fieldwork I handled the technology aspect of recording audio and video, testing the equipment, properly setting up the equipment, and both storing and distributing the files. We possessed two camcorders, tripods, 8G SD cards, and several audio recorders and external microphones to capture and record our interviews. In groups of two, Chatham students interviewed the female entrepreneurs with at least two audio recording devices and one video recording device. After the interviews the audio and video files would be transferred and removed from their devices, filed, then stored on two external devices for transcription at a later date.

Experience through action is my preferred learning style. Working hands on has always left an impression, especially when I make or mistake or learn to do something better. The processes of applying for the grant, gathering data, and analyzing it has all been a hands-on experience. Knowledge of and proficiency in these processes is useful for academic and professional purposes because they are the basic tools for so many career fields. Throughout the actual fieldwork I used a lot of problem solving and adapting, whether it came to handling the equipment or navigating through the streets. Practicing those behaviors and knowing how to adapt them in unfamiliar waters proved advantageous for future circumstance. I also learned how to find and utilize local resources in another country, which is positive because it allows options in plan formation and other aspects.

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