One of my main aims with World Rickshaw Taxi is to promote understanding and awareness about our changing world by presenting my journey around the world through this blog and of course on the website by the fabulous medium of the internet and mobile technology.
Pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering hasn’t left my passion in this subject area to fade; consequently I have taken to travelling and discovering the world and its people for myself. At secondary school, I was passionate about geography and understanding the social and cultural relationship between people and geography. I somehow managed to be the top five students in my GCSE Exams for the country. Perhaps it was the very lengthy coursework that studied housing in Beverley, or most likely it were the great and enthusiastic teachers at Howden School.
It means a great deal to give the opportunity for young students to get involved and what a better way of doing this is getting my former secondary school involved – Howden Senior School, East Yorkshire. Given especially young students are more receptive to understanding about our World it seems a good fit for participating with the school. My intention is to share with them a more ‘raw’, real perspective of the geography I travel through but also the people I meet.
It had been over 5 years since I last stepped through the front doors of the school. Such a long time ago I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully it’s great to see so many of the teachers I remember being there and having an opportunity to reminisce the old days.
After I arriving, I met with Andrew Mason who leads the Geography Department and we had a good discussion on the route and we though up some very interesting ideas for getting the students involved and linking this into their lessons. What we wanted to encourage was prompting students to make their own questions to people that I will meet along the way.
I hope to return sometime in the new year and update them on where I currently am.
Heading to the University of York:
Later in the week I went to York University to the visit the Environment Department and two academics, to get guidance on my research aims. It was an interesting process, slightly intimidating trying to further explain what I aim to discover. Trying to construct any form of research objective with one specific question is difficult, perhaps unreasonable considering the number of countries travelled through and the open nature of this project. It would also feel very wrong to ask specific questions to each passenger. At this point, it hit a low point.
Looking at research from a different perspective:
One of the academics basis his teaching on Sociology research methods and his particular area of interest is ‘Mobility’ – conducting research in a less formative and qualitative way that implicitly gains data or observations from participants by their own motivation. He further clarified his motivation for his involvement and would be enthusiastic in supporting me if I channelled my energy into this area of study. This area of study is apparently on the cutting edge.
Focusing in this area would give me more flexibility, however it was affirmed that a focus and an expectation to what I wanted to discover during this would be important. Having a ‘theme’ that is interest to me and encouraging the passengers to relate to this intrinsically is what will produce meaningful results to analyse following my world journey.
Further exclaimed that focusing on the theme of technology and placing an inter-disciplinary approach into this would produce something valuable. Technology doesn’t have to be specific:
One of the passengers may be really proud of a new television set. Whether they say this in English, or perhaps pointing at it or getting them to take a photo it’s implies the importance of this item to them.
Empowering the participant:
By encouraging the passengers to share what they want to share and perhaps encouraging them to do so, it produces a genuine response that can later be analysed and form comparisons both socially and of course geography. It is an interesting combination of academic interests.
Jim Goldberg, a photographer looked at the close relationships in families in San Francisco capturing a sample of backgrounds. He instructed the subjects a comment below:
This is what I aim to capture on the World Rickshaw Taxi. Not exporting media and presenting my own interpretation to its meaning. It’s presenting what matters to themselves that is important.
Looking from the point of an engineer we can look at the immediate impact of its introduction into an area – in particular through statistics, usage rate and so on. Yet if our demeanour devalues their role in this technology – we can only make guesses of how valuable this technology really is to the community. There is an interesting case study on the introduction of stoves in developing countries to reduce wood consumptions that touches on this issue.