Actually, this journal might have been a stupid idea!
I need to ensure the anonymity of the people I study, and that is practically impossible if I write about it and take pictures of it.
The silence during the past weeks was needed to find out how to approach this skilfully. I will try, but things will have to remain vague.
I am an intern in a coffee company. So how is being an intern research exactly?
Alternatively, I could have stayed in Burundi for a few weeks, ask questions about what I expected, go home, analyse and write up.
Instead, I am doing work here, and by doing the work I am learning so much more about the culture of Burundi, picking up nuances that I would have never thought of asking.
I don’t just hear about the context for running a business in interview, I experience it. I experience the need for careful self-censoring. I have to avoid saying the wrong thing at the wrong time at any cost. I see that others (have to) do the same. Slowly, I pick up why that is so. I learn that constantly changing regulations define your activities in most illogical ways. I see the need to follow regulations. Also, I pick up the fear of devastating consequences of not following rules, aligned with the frustration of not understanding what the regulations are exactly. They are not understood by the followers of the rules, neither by the makers. They just have to be followed, at any cost. I experience what it means to run a business with electricity outages daily.
How this affects running a business that does global trade in a change political and global climate is something I get to experience, not just ask questions about. As a researcher in training I see the immense value of that kind of knowledge. The challenges that come with that are endless too, more on that another time. For now, I see the value of it, and I cannot imagine learning as much as I do in any other way.