Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Research Assistant Shannon Mullin Interviews Residents from Low-Income Neighborhoods in Washington D.C.

I am currently working on exploratory research with Professor Karina Korostelina looking into neighborhood resiliency and what conditions allow neighborhoods to withstand temporary or longstanding challenges. I think what initially drew me to this project was my small town upbringing and my recognition of how important and influential being connected to your neighbors can be. 

Ultimately, I hope to work for an NGO advocating for girls’ education around the world which is an issue that I think needs to be solved at a community and neighborhood level. Hopefully by finding out what makes neighborhoods stronger and more resilient to challenges, I can apply what I have learned to communities around the world while working for equal access to education.

My role in this research is to conduct in-depth interviews with residents in two low-income neighborhoods in Washington D.C. These are structured interviews and I ask fourteen questions on topics such as the strengths and challenges of the neighborhood, the social groups that comprise the neighborhood, how decisions are made, and neighborhood resilience. I then transcribe the recordings of the interviews.

I have learned a lot through this experience already even though we are just beginning the project. Beyond the technical experience that I am gaining about the research process itself, I also have learned more about people in general and the commonalities between our experiences. The neighborhoods I am working in are very different from where I grew up, but the kindness of the residents resembles my home. I think these lessons may be even more important than the typical skills that being a research assistant is supposed to teach you.