10 May 2007

Research Preparations & Presentations

From L to R: me, Vania Pedro, Linda Manjate, Angelo Francisco, Márcia Langa, Leocadia Naene, and Sergio Julane

My research group finally got to present publicly today. Even if the public that turned out consisted of 4 professors and a geography student. I was very disappointed. We originally planned to present our research proposals last week, and I had sent out emails early last week in anticipation. About an hour after I got out the last email, I got a call from Cornélio requesting that we move the presentation to this week because people at the Dept. of Natural Area Conservation (Ministry of Tourism) wanted to attend. He wanted to give the students an extra week to polish up their presentations since they would be presenting to more than just the department. Okay. That sounded good. DNAC is a potentially good connection for students who are looking for work or internships after they graduate. So, I emailed everyone again. Unfortunately, two of the people that would have definitely attended were in the field today.

Students got their titles to me by Monday. I forwarded the flyer to Cornelio for posting in the biology department. I came in Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to help polish the presentations as best I could, but some of the language stuff still flys over my head. Late Wednesday, I received 2 flyers for posting in Geography and Anthropology. Angelo and I walked them over to the other departments and posted them, but I didn't have a good feeling about it.

Anticipating that people would be a few minutes late, we used our extra time to upload everyone's slide shows and correct last minute typos. I learned that attention to detail surpasses national boundaries. Mozambican biology, anthropology, and geography students are just as picky as their US counterparts when it comes to making presentations look good. They might even be more detail oriented. Angelo spent 10 minutes making sure all his fonts matched and were large enough for easy viewing. Linda and Vania (picture) looked over their presentations to anticipate potential questions - which they then proceeded to ask one another.

Angelina Martins, a botany professora that I am working with, showed up about 20 minutes before we were to start. Cornélio had asked her to introduce our group, and make sure we had a projector set up. Already done (that was me being anal retentive). A colleague of Sergio's from geography showed up a few minutes before 2PM to see what we were planning and to support Sergio who was pretty nervous about presenting. (He did a fantastic job BTW.) Then Esmeralda Marianas, an anthropology professora, arrived a little late but she had just gotten out of a meeting and rushed over. Esmeralda is going to be teaching ecological anthropology next term and co-supervises Vania and Linda with me. Cornélio Ntumi and Eunice Ribeiro, both biology professors, arrived an hour into the presentations, but they had warned me that they might be late because they had to attend a thesis defense for another student.

That was our audience. I can't tell you how disappointed I was - pissed off might be a better term. The students worked very hard to improve their presentations - practicing, rewording slides, reformatting to make them clearer, etc. We presented to ourselves and our audience of one. I am not counting the professors because we've been working with the students all this time already. Well perhaps Esmeralda counts since she didn't know too much about the biology projects in advance. But no DNAC, no other professors or students from biology, no professors from agronomy (they were invited). Remember, I didn't have a good feeling about posting the flyer so late in geography or anthropology. One can always hope, but the pragmatic part of me did prepare to be disappointed from that direction.

I can post their work here and reach a huge audience. Over the next couple of days I will be posting a description of the projects (and linking to presentations if I can figure out how to do this). I will post a picture of each member of our Maputaland Landscape and Culture Research Group (the link goes to a separate but related project), with the title of their research, a brief description of the project, and contact information (they requested the last part). If you are interested please comment.

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