mini fieldwork experience

I had an positive experience during our little research project. After vigorous deliberation we decided that I would be ‘Dr. Researcher’ and Lindsey would be Señora Participant. I came up with some crummy questions and we headed out, and while out I tweaked the questions to make them better along the way. We really weren’t sure which topic to cover at first because we thought that both topics cover improvements on campus, and both could be investigated in the cafeteria. Ultimately, we decided to go with the cafeteria topic and started taking pictures.

The way I understood it was that the participant took pictures to answer the questions, and those answers would be elaborated on during a ‘photo elicitation’ session after returning to base.  So we set out and I presented my questions, and this is where the experience took an unexpected turn (for me at least). I’ve been attending QC for a couple of years but I know very little about its campus

(Message on the Wall at 'The Dairy Stop')

because I usually just come in to class and leave home, I don’t have many friends here so I don’t hang around often. So our first stop was this Dining Hall next to Rathaus Hall that I didn’t even know was there…I know…Sad

The first picture was an attempt at the first answer about feeling restricted to certain areas of campus, but this turned into me learning about dietary laws that Jewish people have to follow. The picture says that if you’re picking up food for anyone or plan to eat it out of the designated dining area; you’re responsible for getting Kosher tape put on it. And that you are responsible for the Kashrut.

I started talking with Lindsey about how this could affect her if she had a non-Jewish friend eat with her. She explained that it’s not that difficult but that there are times where she might have a friend with her who may eat a hamburger, and by deitary law, she can’t let the meat touch the dairy. So basically if I buy a hamburger and eat it while she eats Mac ‘n’ Cheese and I flick a piece of my burger on her plate; it’s a violation of the dietary law. I felt silly for not knowing about this, and she said it’s not exactly common knowledge for everyone. I’m an Agnostic raised by non-religious parents, so I find religious rules, customs, and rites of passage very interesting.

So, I learned the following: A Jewish person can’t eat dairy AND meat together. They CAN however eat meat AFTER they eat dairy…HOWEVER they can’t eat meat and then eat dairy. This is all fascinating to me because I can’t imagine being able to keep track of this, it just seems so strict. She told me that it just becomes second nature to you and that it’s not too hard at all.

Afterward I asked her what she’d improve if she could improve anything, and she said she’d probably improve the prices after we reviewed her picture of the [breakfast] menu.

(The Menu)

It seemed like a buffet style setup so it would seem that you pay a bit much considering the portions and this led me to my next question which was if she thought it’d be a good idea to bring in some commercial restaurants into the area, and she said that she wasn’t too sure about it  and I think that it might even invoke a response that, in the spirit of capitalism, could lower prices for the ‘Dairy Stop’. She took a picture of her friend in front of an advertisement for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, which seems directly related to the same idea.

She then showed me another section with a much larger room and more tables. She told me that it was too bad that it wasn’t lunch time because the picture would probably end up showing how crowded the eating area can get. She explained to me that while she couldn’t eat meat and dairy together (or even let meat and dairy touch) it isn’t any different for the restaurants preparing the food. She pointed out that if you wanted your dairy you could get it in the first area, but you’d have to leave for other foods like your Chinese food or Pizza, and that made sense to me. I figure that this might be an inconvenience to someone if they’re eating lunch with a diverse group with a diverse group of cravings, add that to a very crowded lunchtime eating area; and you’ve got yourself a challenging lunchtime.  While she suggested that the cafeteria could benefit from more tables and chairs; there’s no telling if that would make lunchtime any less crowded but it’s a start.

(The eating area pretending it doesn't get crowded.)

So my mini-fieldwork experience became like a campus tour of a building I never went inside, and an introduction to Jewish dietary laws. Even though I was seriously embarrassed by all that I didn’t know, I’m glad I got to learn about them thanks to my Señora participant  Lindsey who was very helpful throughout. We didn’t get to change roles but I think everything turned out well. The experience even led me to do a little research of my own (especially after looking at the first photo) and I learned that a Mashgiach is the person who supervises and looks to maintain the Kashrut which I learned is the name for the set of Jewish dietary laws.

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9 Responses to “mini fieldwork experience”

  1.   lindsey Says:

    VERY WELL PUT !!! -LP

  2.   devyndarko Says:

    Amaru! I must say that i learned something i never knew, just by looking at your first photo. I don’t know much about being kosher, but being vegetarian/vegan, i do sympathize with those who have dietary restrictions.. It was definately new to see how strict being kosher is.

  3.   amaru Says:

    Yeah, I was actually surprised that I didn’t know about it. I always knew about kosher food but never really thought about how specific being kosher can be.
    The message in the first photo does kinda sound a little threatening, doesn’t it? The Kashrut is clearly very strict.

  4.   christinepersaud Says:

    As the participant, I explained to the researcher that the cafeteria is always crowded too! Fortunately, we were able to get a picture of the crowded cafeteria at the Student Union. Also, I know absolutely nothing about Jewish practice, so it was really great learning about one aspect in one little sign. Very Creative thinking!

  5.   elydurey Says:

    Hey I think that you shouldn’t feel embarrased for not knowing this info but glad that you’ve learned something new. I think it’s very interesting the way people eat according to their religion or culture. I think every culture has very intetresting things. I’m amazed that you didn’t know about the Dinning Hall since that’s my spot to hang out with friends. I usually hang out at the copy center since my friend works there, sometimes i’ll play air hokey. It’s a nice environment. Definitely you had a good experience as a researcher.

  6.   rachelhymowitz Says:

    I never knew these places existed either!!!

  7.   lnaiman Says:

    You seem to have really enjoyed, and gained a lot from this experience! I’m gald that you enjoyed learning about the rules of Kashrut (as I only eat Kosher as well), and that you find it interesting. Its cool to learn about other peoples religions and customs and it seems like your partner took advantage of this opportunity, and it looks like you really enjoyed!

  8.   lily15 Says:

    Very descriptive and informational Amaru!

  9.   Antonia Says:

    Great entry, Amaru! Not just your story but also the way you reflect critically on your own journey as a researcher during this experience. The pictures are well selected to support your writing, and I smiled about the caption for the last one (even it’s not exactly fitting a sociological approach). 🙂

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