We opened presents and the kids had so much fun. The boys were literally speechless over the bike. Watch. (Good thing we did it then b/c right after I finished filming the power went out for the whole night.)
After a lot of swimming and getting a little cold, Anna was not in the mood to say Merry Christmas. C'est dommage.
Yesterday, we celebrated Christmas and went to the pool to swim and have lunch. After the pool, we came back and opened presents. The kids have never had a "Doces Christmas" but they have now and it was a lot of fun. I can't tell you much they appreciated it, and I can't tell you much more I got out of it. An awesome day!
We finished our first day of randomized data collection on Saturday. After our test of the survey, we made a few small adjustments, but it continued to do really well out in the field. On Saturday, we went the whole day and got a lot of observations. We canvassed my neighborhood including the fishing village at one end of it. I am not directly participating in the survey and letting our research assistants collect the data. What we do is first meet in the morning and then for lunch to discuss the protocol. I remain in the area we are canvassing in case they need any help or have questions. Since we were in my neighborhood today, I know a lot of the people and just walked around and said hi to my friends. I even got into a heated basketball game with the kids and I saw one this morning on his way to school and all I heard were shouts of "American"! Ha, too good. At least he gets it right. (These kids are so tough...playing in bare feet with no problem when I land on their foot. I love the grit.)
In the afternoon I checked on the data collection and saw they were making great progress. I then walked around and sat down to rest. Had a nice break to drink some water and even said a prayer with a Muslim man sitting next to me. Good times and even better people in the Cote d'Ivoire.
Today I am guest lecturing on multivariate regression analysis. Ha. The class will be on the beach at my office, of course. I caught a cab down here for the short ride from my place and the cab driver and his pal in the front asked immediately if I was Italian. I said no and that I was American. That was the right thing to say: immediate chants from them of number 1, Americans are the best, Obama, the whole deal. It was a fun ride and for the record I am not Italian, not Spanish, but yes a little Albanian.
I can't believe it but collection of data for my research started today and I could not have asked for a better day. Today we tested our survey and collected as much data as we could and actually had to turn people away at the end of the day. The survey was excellent and people had no problems responding to it and understanding what was being asked. Based on this test run we feel with a few modifications we are ready to implement it with a random selection of participants. My two research assistants were fantastic and dare I say that we actually had fun working today. I have never felt more like a 'social scientist' than I did today--have hypotheses, getting data, will test. The weather cooperated and was cloudy although pretty muggy.
Thinking back, the first proposal I wrote to come here and do this research goes back to June 2014. Indeed it has been a long process and the specific proposal I wrote after I got here and formed a team has taken a long time to develop and I have received invaluable feedback from top methodologists in the U.S. who have provided advice that has made this project much, much better.
The core of the research is investigating attitudes towards political candidates using a survey experiment and conjoint analysis. We are studying if people show preferences for candidates with elite backgrounds or not. Specifically, we are testing competing arguments about African politics namely that on one hand people should not prefer elites based on the notion that the elite maintain a system that benefits them and really no one else in Africa, but on the other hand there is a deep reverence for elitism in Africa and so there might be support for elite based politics from the people themselves not only the elite. If the latter holds in the data then it will point out some real misunderstandings about African politics among folks outside of Africa.
We also our testing several other arguments in our survey-experiments including if women are more likely to prefer female candidates, and if people of particular religious backgrounds are also more likely to prefer candidates that share their same religion. The Ivory Coast is an excellent place to test these ideas as it has a diverse population with large Christian and Muslim populations as well as others.
Today we covered a neighborhood called Petit Paris and we will continue to cover other neighborhoods in the next few weeks. When we finish here we will head to another part of the country to further test our ideas and eventually to East Africa.
The pic in the middle below is of my two research assistants before we went out and the pics on the left and right are of collecting data.
Went to the store today and Anna wanted to come. When we got inside she saw party hats with Mickey and so we got one. Then we got an ice cream which she ate while I shopped. While checking out she saw some little chairs with cartoon characters on the seat so we got one of those too. As I told the checker, Pourquoi pas.
John Doces. Je vous écris de la Côte-d'Ivoire en Afrique.