Preston Public Interest Career Fund Recipient
“Nāu te whatu Māori.” This Maori proverb, which translates into English as “through the eyes of the Maori” is a cornerstone of my proposed summer experience. I have organized an internship with the New Zealand’s Government Ministry for Social Development, Child, Youth and Family Services in Wellington, New Zealand. As part of an evaluation team that has been commissioned by the government ministry, I will be working to conduct qualitative field research across New Zealand communities to understand how Maori and Pacific Islanders experience government and community services delivered by social workers and others. This will involve interviewing children and adults, using indigenous research frameworks that will honor the wisdom and experiences of Maori and Pacific Islanders.
As a Sociology major/History minor, I am interested in understanding how marginalized groups interact with government systems and their communities. Similar to Native Americans in the United States, the Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) have endured years of oppressive and paternalistic government policies that have negatively impacted them and resulted in their disproportionate representation in child welfare, youth justice, and prison systems. Even so, the New Zealand government—through laws and policies—is recognized internationally for working with their indigenous groups to create solutions to societal ills.
With this internship, I am able to blend my multiple passions, including: my love of qualitative research that allows one to explore the human experience through stories and appreciative inquiry; my interest in the complexity and uniqueness of people’s thinking and connections; my curiosity to learn about the indigenous experience in another country that I can leverage for the future; and my inquisitiveness about how societal prejudice, bias and stereotypes may impact how the Maori and Pacific Islanders navigate their relationships with government systems.
Currently, I am planning to pursue a PhD in Social Psychology, a degree that values research of the human experience. The opportunity to conduct interviews, analyze interview data for trends and themes, and help write an evaluation report that may impact government policies and programs, and ultimately improve the lives of Maori and Pacific Island families is exhilarating. It will also help me to explore a career that blends research and therapeutic practice. Finally, I also envision leveraging my New Zealand learnings and experience to participate, if selected, in the Bowdoin-Colby-Bates Wabanaki Collaborative.
- Date September 22, 2017
- Tags 2017, Australia/Oceania, Preston, Sophomore