In 1996, I participated in a BYU ethnographic field study program in Namibia, long before celebrities flew there to have their babies, or baby, as the case may be. It rocked. There were 8 of us--all girls--who went, along with a male TA and our professor/anthropologist-in-chief and his 5-year-old daughter. We camped near a settlement of OvaHimba in Northern Namibia for three weeks. We had no shower; we were earthy, some more than others. We hired translators and lived among the women and children and the old men because the men were attending to their pastoral duties in less arid topography during the dry season. We interviewed them, we talked with them, we attended a funeral, we (I) took their hurt children into town to the nearest medical clinic when one of them was to fall into the fire and melt the skin on his hand. We watched them play, cook, eat, and we took lots of notes and recorded lots of interviews. We each had an area of focus. Mine kept shifting, but it had something do with how these wonderful people were struggling to keep their culture vibrant despite increasingly frequent exposure to Western civilization (hello! 11 white people from Utah encroaching for a month, among others!); how they viewed their social and political position in the region; what they knew about life outside their homesteads. It was a vague and ever-so-dynamic topic of study. I never really got a good handle on it.
One of our classes for which we were getting credit required that we type up our field notes in a comprehensive fashion post-return to the States. A year passed and I hadn't done the assignment yet. Graduation and marriage approached and my professor offered to front me a grade -- a B , so I could get credit for the class with the promise that after I turned in the 30+ page assignment he would switch my grade to an A. Well, I'm kind of a procrastinator. I left Utah without ever having done it. Two years turned into, whattayaknow, TEN, and I still have not even transcribed my TAPES into notes to turn into the polished collection of field notes that my professor was owed oh so many years ago.
So, I have a chink in my integrity. I told my professor that I would do it, he gave me a grade, I graduated (although I'm almost positive I didn't actually need those 3 credits to qualify to graduate). And I never did it. And NOW -- can't you see what my biggest fear about living in Provo is?!? -- I'm sort of afraid of running into this (scary) professor and having to answer for my failures. I'm sort of afraid of unknowingly buying a house right next door to him.
I deserve that you now think less of me. What can I say? I'm not perfect. (And it's still eating me up inside.)