Once upon a time a long time ago I liked to write. English was my favorite subject from elementary school up until high school. I was even known to win a few creative writing contests back in my day. I considered journalism as a career for a long time, but sometime during my late high school years I lost the love for writing and I never looked back. However, after feeling a tiny flicker of excitement during last week’s discussion on ethnography, I questioned why I gave up on writing. What toilet did I flush that passion down and why? I think it came with the introduction of Advanced Placement classes in high school. I only took two, history and biology, but the writing expectations were the same; write about the facts and write about them as clearly and simply as possible. There was no room for imagination, or the chance to incorporate my own personal creativity. The rubrics to succeed in those classes didn’t just give guidelines on how to write, but what to write as well.
My college classes have continued with these guidelines. When it comes to writing around here, it’s all about essays that tell your professors what you know. Very rarely do they ask what you think. Critical ethnographies seem to give us that opportunity. After reading the articles last week I realize that ethnography isn’t easy, and it’s not a chance for me to simply give my interpretation of a culture. That would be fair to neither the culture nor those who happen to read what I write. But it is a chance to pick an issue that strikes my interest and observe a particular culture in ways that might help better understand that issue from a view other than my own. I can write with in a creative style, and yet still remain true to the facts of the experience.
I look forward to practicing my ethnography skills with the Lost Boys in Arizona. However, my excitement is paired with anxiety. I have no experience with ethnography, and this will be my first attempt. Needless to say I will not be expecting perfection. My only hope is that I can write in a way that is interesting and inspiring, and able to focus the reader’s attention on an important issue related to the struggles of genocide refugees. I look forward to a writing assignment that is completely in my hands. No rubric, no previous examples to follow, just my experience, and their story.