Hello it is Youth Day in Namibia and South Africa,I have been at the University of Cape Town for three months now and I am halfway into my practicum. I am still working on my thesis and I am becoming a little upset that it is not in yet. Thankfully, I have this blog. The truth is, I am doing really well with my mini-dissertation. I have accepted 90% of my supervisors comments (I did not count them, I am just using the number for emphasis) and in fact I am on track.
But since I started this research fellowship with Desmond Tutu, I am acutely aware of what it means to be a researcher – an academic – an investigator, a scholar, you name it. I want to publish my research and I feel I am becoming infected with this desire to get it out there, lest someone else publishes on newer findings that make my research obsolete.
This is where my practicum comes in! You see, I am not just a research fellow cum student. I am also a practicum public health student. This means I have the opportunity to reflect critically on my experiences here. I have the privilege of the in-between space, neither here nor there. I can examine what this experience means to me. So far, so good. I have presented on research on tuberculosis in teenagers in Cape Town and I think the feedback I had from my mentors would make any budding academic blush. Except if they have the impostors syndrome. I know chuckle at this though; life need not be taken so seriously.
I want to now blog on two things. First of all, I am thinking I want to go into a PhD. I am not sure in what it will be, but I think it must relate to fundamental understandings of infectious disease. If implementation science is about getting interventions to work, then I think I ought to help find the evidence underpinning conceptions of efficacy. This is not proving a drug or intervention is efficacious in a trial. This is broader stuff, things we take for granted. For instance, we may take for granted the idea, men who have sex with men become infected via sex with other men, so much so we ignore all infections they could contract from women. And that is the story of my thesis. I think I need to understand and assess the premises that people use for even the design of an implementation science study.
Then the other thing I want to talk about is news. It is June 16th and it commemorates the protest in 1976 here in South Africa, against unjust education. Today in Namibia, young people marched to advocate for education by eschewing the building of money for a new parliament ; funds they say will be siphoned away from education. Networks are powerful. I am reminded of this and I believe that nay public health policy needs to bear that in mind. To make a difference with our research, we need to tap into those networks. Spreading the word is one thing, civil disobedience and marching to enact change is another.