Friday, November 27, 2015

Communication is Key by Alex Schmiechen

            While at the Las Cruces Biological Station in San Vito, Costa Rica, over these past few weeks I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct research related to using plants as alternative soap sources. This research was very unique compared to past studies I had done, as I really felt that my work could actually make a direct and positive impact on the community around me. However, in order to make this impact I realized the importance of being able to communicate my research to the community around me, who mostly speaks Spanish exclusively. Though we did not come to the conclusion of using a specific plant as soap, I still felt that the discussion surrounding why people lack soap and our research were essential for future progress and awareness in the San Vito community.
            I especially valued our poster session as it gave my research group an opportunity to convey our findings to the community and bring people into the discussion surrounding why people need alternative soap sources in the first place. Although people in a position of privilege might not have initially considered this to be an issue, I felt that people were actually very interested to hear about our research and why we had done it.

            During the poster session, presenting in two different languages and to a wide range of people about our findings made me consider the importance of communication in the science field, especially across nations and cultures. Language can be an important limitation in the acquisition of scientific information. A lot of research may be present from a certain region, but necessitate that regular people and scientists alike have the language abilities to understand new information. This definitely came up during my research when I was looking for information about the local plants and the community I was basing my research on. I definitely valued my Spanish more when I realized that without it I would have struggled much more to find relevant articles and information. All this made me recognize the importance of being able to communicate to a wide variety of people in order to share ideas, especially ones that could actually make a difference in people’s lives. 

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