Anne Gavin

Anthropology, Macalester College
2015-2016 Fulbright-Schuman Program

My first few weeks in Greece so far have been nothing short of incredible. I began my journey in Athens where I learned straight away the warmth of Greek hospitality, from the Fulbright Commission to the other Fulbrighters to the strangers on the street. After my introduction to Greece in Athens, I then flew to Thessaloniki where I had the pleasure of meeting my Greek research Advisor, Dr. Papageorgiou, Assistant Professor in the School of Political Sciences at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He was himself a Fulbrighter so we had a great deal to catch up on! While in Thessaloniki, I also had the privilege of meeting with Consul General Fong and Ms. Xeni Kosmidou from the US Consulate in Thessaloniki; we enjoyed a lovely conversation over tea, discussing US perspectives on the present refugee crisis.

From Thessaloniki, I flew to Mytilini, Lesvos where the fieldwork began immediately. For my Fulbright research, I am conducting comparative research on how populations in and states themselves are responding to the larger EU-wide crisis, analyzing the response through a user research lens to better understand service delivery. Specifically, I’m looking at the implementation of policy in practice and examining the developments of humanitarian innovation that are emerging in this volunteer-led, “crowdfunded” response. However, I quickly learned that in an emergency situation, roles become blurred. I am not only a researcher but someone who can dig through a bin of clothing for someone arriving wet, who can prepare and deliver sandwiches to those haven’t eaten in nearly three days, and who can help hang tarps to create rain shelters. Only three weeks in to my participant observation, I have already seen and learned more than I ever could have anticipated. With a solid grasp of the situation as I see it on the ground now, I am eager to advance my research into other ethnographic methodologies. Eviva (cheers) to many more months of research ahead — I am really looking forward continuing!

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