As part of the Voices of Refugee Youth research study, I have undertaken data collection on three occasions. This has involved a survey with refugees at secondary school in Pakistan. Doing data collection was a great experience because I love to connect with people and have the opportunity to listen to their issues and try to solve them. We (the youth researchers) experienced many issues when we ourselves were secondary school students, and there was no one to ask us about our challenges of being Afghan refugee students in Pakistan. I have enjoyed taking on this role for the current students whom I have met during data collection.
One challenge we faced was accessing students while they were at school. On multiple occasions, we faced issues such as some schools not giving us permission to interview students. Some schools’ principals made the excuse that students were not interested to speak with us, preventing us from asking the students themselves.
A second challenge was contacting students. We found that many of the contact numbers of students were incorrect, due to them changing their mobile numbers since the previous data point. Similarly, we struggled with unfamiliar school names/locations; for two or three days we were looking for certain schools, and finally we found out that there do not exist any schools with this specific name.
However, I really enjoyed data collection because we found out more interesting information about students’ issues and shared that with the rest of the research team. I particularly enjoyed working in a team. I was collecting data in a team of three members (me, Zainab, and Rozina). This was beneficial, because whenever any problem came to us, such as dealing appropriately with principals and students, we solved that as a team. Therefore we felt secure and also we enjoyed visiting different schools.
Data collection also helped us to realise some issues of Afghan refugees students which we didn’t know before. This included that they struggle with not having proper classrooms or professionally trained teachers.
In summary, there were some good experiences and some challenging experiences of data collection, as I have mentioned above. I enjoyed the experience overall, and look forward to sharing more about the experience of Afghan refugees in the future.