So, all of us who go to a country where we do not speak the language to do our data collection, will inevitably be very dependent on a good assistant. We see our respondents and surroundings through that assistant and equally important, our respondents see us through that assistant.
I’m going to Okhaldhunga in Nepal. Okhaldhunga I feel is a fitting name for a place in the middle of nowhere or as we say in Norway “gokk”. Let’s just say people in the capital Kathmandu are in general not the least bit excited by the prospect of wandering from house to house in the mountains in Okhaldhunga/gokk. So, the line of research assistant applicants outside my little office in Kathmandu Medical College Hospital is not very long. On the first day it consists of two girls. The first one quickly decides Okhaldhunga is not for her after all, she doesn’t say so, but I can tell. I have not heard from her since. The second one enters the room dressed in a very nice purple dress, something you might see at an evening dinner party. The dress is matched by ample jewelry and of course, high heels. I can’t help but wonder if this is her normal every day attire? She has never visited the countryside and I am wondering if she realizes how incompatible high heels and Okhaldhunga will be? Purple princess, as I call her, sits in her chair nervously giggling and her eyes are getting bigger and bigger for every sentence she hears about the job I am offering. She keeps saying that she wants to do it, but by the end of the interview her eyes are the size of saucers. Needless to say I haven’t heard back from her either.
The next day there is only one girl coming for an interview. I only need to hear a few sentences to know that she is the research assistant I am looking for. I feel it all comes down to attitude, personality and communication skills, qualifications are of comparatively less interest to me. The other girls may be entirely right for another researcher but they were not a good match with me and my project. What you need mostly in the search for a research assistant I guess is luck, it’s as simple and as difficult as that. I really am excited and happy to have found an assistant, slightly against the odds.