As I am making adjustments to my luggage and doing last minute preparation for India, multiple emotions are occupying my mind and body. It is one of those things. No matter how many documentaries you watch, how many lectures and stories you hear and how many articles you read, you never feel as prepared as you anticipated. And as a result, you end up like me…vigorously trying to sort through the emotions that have taken over me within the past few days.
I can honestly say that the primary emotion I am feeling for this research trip is excitement. As someone who is focusing on conflict resolution and peace studies, I can actually implement some of the tools I have learned within the past few years on the field for the very first time. In addition, I will be able to hear these firsthand accounts of victims of the violence that has taken place in Gujarat for years.
I feel that seeing the expressions on the informants’ faces when they are telling their stories and hearing the pain and anger in their tones will help me, and us as a team, to determine how they truly feel in regards to the turmoil in Gujarat. It will be a lot more personal than watching it on a TV or reading it in a book. I believe this will help us share what we saw and heard in a more descriptive manner and we can give this kind of research the justice and attention it deserves, based on what our informants tell us.
On the other hand, I am extremely nervous about my first time in the field. I have had a similar experience interviewing Native Americans on reservations last year and it also had a very sensitive nature. But the difference is the violence was no longer present and the research had more of a historical standpoint and it was political in nature. For Gujarat, although politics are present and history is crucial, the violence continues to persist and the issue is extremely sensitive from all sides. Remaining neutral and probing for information without offending any of the informants will certainly be a challenge for this conflict.
Upon conversing with some of my group members, I suspect all of us are filled with these conflicting emotions, in one way or another. However, I believe that we have a good team of researchers going to Gujarat, as well as, an inspirational professor. Support and encouragement are key to make the best of these types of research projects and I feel we have that and more. And the important thing to remember is first experiences in the field will help us for future experiences!