|Photo: Audra Nuru|
Audra sipping some hot cocoa in Costa Rica!
Audra recently went on a trip to Costa Rica to gain experience working with multiethnic communities to help with her current research. She describes her experience in Costa Rica and what she learned in 5 questions below…
1. What are your research interests?
I am interested in understanding the communicative negotiation of multiple (and often contested) identities. Most of my research focuses on understanding how multiethnic/racial individuals communicatively negotiate and construct their racial/ethnic identities. Through my research, I observe how people from multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds negotiate both macro and micro discourses in order to develop an understanding of who they are as well as develop ways to articulate who they are to others. Specifically, I am interested in the ways multiethnic/racial individuals use combinations of micro- and macro-level discourses in the construction and negotiation of their identity.
2. Why Costa Rica?
Given my research interests, I was specifically drawn to Costa Rica for data collection because of its rich and incredibly diverse cultural makeup. I gathered most of my data from Puerto Viejo and San Jose because I was interested in observing perspectives of multiethnic/racial identity from Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and Bribri indigenous cultures. After talking with my doctoral advisor, Dr. Jordan Soliz, and my mentor, Dr. Tina Harris, I realized that gaining an international perspective on ethnic/racial identity negotiation is crucial in understanding the process of multiethnic/racial identity construction. As I discussed my ideas with both Drs. Soliz and Harris, Dr. Harris introduced me to the study abroad program that she directs through the University of Georgia-Costa Rica titled, “International Perspectives on Interracial Communication.” She explained that through this particular study abroad program I would have access to these unique populations and would be able to study the intersections of race, ethnicity, culture, and communication within national and international contexts. It honestly seemed too good to be true! I immediately applied to the program and the rest is history!
3. What was the most exciting part of your trip?
I really did enjoy everything about the trip! It was such an amazing opportunity, and I am so incredibly grateful for the experience. While there were many “exciting” parts of the trip, I think my top two are: 1) learning from and interacting with indigenous tribes in otherwise secluded territories, and 2.) being invited to guest lecture about multiethnic/racial identity and the Communication Theory of Identity at the University of Costa Rica-San Ramon.
4. What difficulties did you come across in your trip?
Honestly, I think the most difficult part about the trip was going home. I established such amazing relationships with the people there and it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye. The people I met and the stories they shared have forever changed my disposition towards life, research, and teaching; and while I know it won’t be too long until I can return, I honestly can’t wait to go back!
5. What advice do you have for future students interested in going abroad for research?
Do it! It was such an amazing opportunity and it has enhanced my life in ways I could have never imagined. However, if you plan on collecting your research in Costa Rica, remember to pack some bug spray!