Interview with Lisa Knatterud Wold

Lisa Knatterud Wold talking to one of her informants.

Lisa Knatterud Wold is a student at the Department of Geography, the University of Bergen, Norway. She received a travel grant from NAI to collect data in Zambia for her masters thesis. The project is entitled ‘Livelihood Strategies and Gender: Mechanisms to achieve livelihood security in fisheries households of Lake Kariba, Zambia’. Lisa did her fieldwork in the Southern Province of Zambia, in four fishing villages along Lake Kariba and the Zambezi River, from June to August 2006. This interview was carried out in October 2006.

How did you learn about NAI's travel scholarship?
I first learned about NAI’s travel and study grants when I saw a poster on a bulletin board at the Department of Geography in Bergen. I also read about the scholarships in “Legathåndboken”.

What was the most important experience from your fieldwork?
Well, it’s difficult to emphasise one particular experience, since I learned a lot from different experiences. I will try to summarize the most important ones:

- Whenever you hear scary stories about travelling alone – don’t listen to them, trust yourself and your ability to make the right decisions, although it’s always a good idea to ask for help.
- If you think people act very strange, it’s probably you who have overlooked an important cultural practice, be open-minded!
- Leave your scepticism and prejudice behind, but don’t give your phone number to everyone who asks just to be polite.
- Never trust a Zambian bus driver who says the bus will leave shortly (or maybe – don’t trust your instincts when it comes to concepts like “almost immediately”, “in a little while” or “soon”).
- It is actually true that if you go to Africa once - you have to go back!

Any advice you would like to share with other students who are planning to go on fieldwork?

Well, of course I experienced many things I would have done differently today. I can only give advice to students who are planning to do fieldwork for the first time though. Firstly, you should prioritize reading as much literature as possible about the site and issues related to your paper. If you have a good overview of relevant publications and general knowledge about the place in advance, it will help you a lot in the field! Secondly, try to establish local contacts that can assist you during the fieldwork, it is probably more challenging than you think. Thirdly, work a lot with preparing interview guides or other strategies for data collection! This might seem obvious, but generally I believe many students would benefit from being even better prepared! Finally, use your opportunities! Use some time to search for scholarships like the one from NAI, even though you are stressed and pushed for time.

Advice to those who are planning to apply for scholarships?

It’s definitively worth applying. Make an effort and submit a proper application! The travel grant made it possible for me to do a better study, as I could, for instance, afford to buy diesel for transport on the lake or by land to the fishing villages that were located relatively far away from each other.
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