The first thing that we learned about data collection was interpersonal communication with refugee students. The way you interact with the interviewees will determine whether they are willing to be part of the research or come for the second data point for the research. During the training, we were taught that refugee students might be reluctant to be part of the interview by ignoring our calls and hanging up on us. We had to motivate them and that’s what we did. We showed some of our interviewees, who were reluctant, the importance of the research and how their siblings or other refugees in the world can benefit from it.
The second thing that we learned during our data collection is being flexible because we had to work around participants’ availability. This is the case for meeting with participants from universities located in Kigali while they have other duties. We planned to go to meet with some of them and found out that they are not available after asking them. Due to the fact that we collected data while students were in the exam session, it was hard for them to have time to meet and do the interview. Some would tell us to call them after two weeks. By being flexible, we would tell them that whenever they find free time, they can call us and we would be there. This also taught us how to meet with students from different universities within one day in order to submit our data collected on time
Something else that we learned in the research methods training that we found helpful was writing journals. This helped us to write our data collection report because we always wrote a journal at the end of our data collection. So, reflecting on the challenges faced during data collection was so easy. It also helped us to find the highlights because we used to note down the relevant stories from the research participants. In addition to that, writing journals helped us to remember the dates on which we collected the data. In addition to having helped us to write our reports and remember the dates, taking my journal helped in overcoming some of the challenges. During the weekend, we had to go back and see some of the previous week’s challenges and find ways to overcome them for the coming week. That helped us to ensure that the rest of the data collection days ran smoothly.