Pre-interview prep for Homeless shelter

 

I plan to interview the program coordinator (Nicole) at Anna M. Sample complex homeless shelter on March 16, 2011 @ 1:00 PM.  Of course I want to ask her many questions regarding the Homeless shelter, questions that include:

What her role is in the shelter?

What kind of people come to the shelter?

Basically I want to know information regarding everything about the center.  I know I can get most of the general information from the pamphlets or online; therefor, i plan to ask questions not generally discussed to get the feel for the place.  I want to know whether she chose to work for the center or was there no other choice.  I say this because I am aware that the center is located in a very dangerous city.  So I want to know what kind of problems they see and do they, the staff, fear for their lives?  Additionally, what kind of clients do they have given the location?  Basically I want to get to know the ‘dirt’.

According to Postmodern Interviewing edited by Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Holstein, the modern interview “gradually accepted routine conversational exchanges between strangers; when people encountered interview situations, they were not immediately defensive about being asked for information about their lives, their associates, or their deepest sentiments.” (22)  By interviewing Nicole I hope to have access “to the observation of others” (26)  Through this process I hope to learn about the shelter, the neighborhood, the setting, the quality of living, how the organization sets its goals, what happens in families that live there, and about the everyday challenges that the staff and clients encounter.

I hope to make my questions casual in nature, the kind you “would ask while having a drink with someone.” (30)  Because I plan to go back to the center, I would like to engage with the staff and develop a trusting relationship.  I would like to invoke a “discourse of empowerment” where I (the interviewer) and Nicole (the respondent) become interview participant, which becomes a form of collaboration.  I will tell her what I intend to bring into the shelter, how I can help, thereby allowing her to engage with me on the same level so that I can truly get the sense of what this homeless shelter is really about.

Ethnomethodolgical thinkers inform us that “we cannot study social interaction except in relation to the interactive methods employed by social actors themselves to create and maintain their sense of reality.”  Further on Holstein and Gubrium state “that the interview is a social production between interviewer and respondent…it entails collaborative construction between two active parties.” (56)

Although I am set to interview the program coordinator, I hope to have multiple voices included in the interview along with exposure to the place, a bird’s eye view of what they do there, who their clients are, the staff etc.  For the most part, I am coming in with preconceptions about the location, and the clients that occupy the shelter.  I need to clear those misconceptions and open my mind to the possibilities.

Some further questions I have will include:

Who is Anna M. Sample and why was the center named after her?

 

Then I would like to see if I could set a date where I can come and profile a family.  I would imagine it might be difficult because that would depend on the willingness of the families and my ability to develop a connection.  I will seek advice from the staff on what the best approach is.

 

Finally, I look forward to the interview.

 

 

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