Sunday, March 13, 2011

Practicing Writing Case Studies: The Wedding Story

Last week I promised to write about my colleague's wedding. It was quite an affair, albeit very different from my neighbour's wedding the week before.

The report writing which has taken up most of my fingers' energies is nearing an end, but it's not there yet. Today at work, I took a break from reports to develop a format for writing case studies. The case studies will be about women and youth and community leaders who make a difference in improving their communities. But I wanted an example to show my team how to fill out the form, and the first thing that came to mind was the wedding. So here is the completed case study about the wedding...

Who is this story about?
This is a story about Ali's wedding. Ali is 30 years old and he is a company driver. He is from the capital city. He has a large family - at the wedding we met 1 brother and 3 sisters and they mentioned others. We also met an older man who said he was Ali's father and an old woman who said she was Ali's mother. At the wedding there were a couple hundred of people. 4 cars full of company people - around 30 people from the company.

Where did this story happen?
The wedding was at his house. His house is in Hay Z, on the other side of the Nile. The houses are all brick and the roads are mostly sandy. His house was spacious. We sat in the two living rooms - one for men and one for women. They had some tents set up outside his house. They were basically coverings for the road outside his house. There was one for men and one for women, but most people were not covered by the tents.

What is the project?
I first met Ali when he picked me up at the airport on my VERY FIRST arrival in the capital city. He didn't meet me in the airport, he was outside. I saw him because of the company logo on the landcruiser. He was friendly and said he didn't come in because it was Iftar (Ramadan) and he wanted to have some water first.
Five days later he took me to the airport to leave for The Gen. He was very kind - gave me a going-away gift of a calabash bowl. He explained that that is what Sue dan ese use for drinking water or for eating food. It's waterproof and very sturdy. It was a touching gift as I departed into the unknown wild west of the Dar.
He is a friendly and helpful driver. Always has a smile on his face. I guess all of the staff know him and love him. At the wedding everyone was very happy for him and he was grinning the entire time as he danced around with everyone. He liked all the attention he got.

Describe the project strategy
  • Goal: Fit in at a Sue dan ese Wedding
  • Objectives: Congratulate Ali, Wear Sue dan ese clothing, Dance, Spend the afternoon with colleagues
  • Our partners were the rest of the company staff. We met at the office and drove together to the wedding, and we all sat together inside his house (everyone else was outside under the tents)
  • The beneficiaries were everyone in the wedding. A couple of hundred people.
  • We thought the wedding was the 4th but it ended up being on the 11th of March.

Why are you writing this case study?
Well, the most obvious change is that Ali got married. But we don't actually know that. We never met the bride. She would only come to his house for the nighttime portion of the wedding. So for all we know she doesn't actually exist.
I know that Ali spent a lot of time setting up a house for his bride, because I asked him about that. They were engaged for a long time. I'm not sure how long, and I'm not sure if he was previously engaged to someone else, but I know for sure that he has been wanting to get married for years.
He will not come to work for several weeks. I think Susie said it will be 5 weeks before he comes back. I guess that means I might not see him for a long time if I'm leaving for a while. I guess that also means I might not meet his wife for a long time, if ever.
His sisters seemed very proud. They seem to be a family of high achievers. At least one sister speaks English and her daughters are university, I guess.

Tell the story of the CHANGE.
I wonder if his bride was nervous or excited?
My three housemates all went out and bought Sue dan ese Taubes to wear to the wedding. I didn't know they were buying taubes and so I didn't go shopping with them. But it's ok, because they spent a lot of money and I had a culturally-appropriate dress to wear already. They didn't like my joke, but I said that I was a Sue dan ese girl with my three mothers, because my dress looked more like what the young women wear and theirs looked more like what the older women wear.
We had gone to a wedding the week before - our neighbour got married. I'm not sure if it was the bride or the groom who was our neighbour. I think maybe it was the groom. Anyway, that meant we already had a sense of what to expect and knew that women dress UP. On the other hand, this time we were going for the afternoon (food :) ) portion, and last week we went for the evening (dancing and Bride-Groom TOGETHER) portion. So I guess it's fair to say we were very overdressed this time.
All of us really wanted to celebrate a wedding with a colleague at some point during our time here. I was sad because I will miss my team member's wedding. We thought we would be gone before Ali's wedding but we weren't. He probably felt very special having so many company staff with him, since most of the Dar staff, including a dozen khawajas (foreigners), went.
So this is important because it is the first experience we had of a Sue dan ese wedding - of someone we knew. And we attended WITH people we knew. And it was a very home-grown wedding, in the community of the community.

Quote from an individual participating in the project.
"I danced and danced and danced!" said Ali, M, 30 years old. It was his wedding.

What did you LEARN that helped you succeed?
Community factors: He clearly had a very loving family. The women all bunched around us to dance with the khawaja girls. This made me feel like they were proud and humble and energetic, all at the same time.
Cultural factors: He was waving a gun around during part of the time he was dancing. We were all very glad he didn't actually shoot the gun. We've heard of people dying at weddings here.
Individual/group influences: Ali was very eager to get married, and very happy on his wedding day. The last few times I saw him at work he was wearing galabeya, and men here seem to wear their galabeyas if they see great fun on the horizon. So this was a big celebration for him and I'm sure he fought hard to make sure it happened.
Outside factors: Having his company family, including the expat staff, in his house must have affected the wedding. It made them look good? Or it added to the excitement of the day? Or it proved he had an employer with money? Or not. We were probably the most significant external factor, actually.
Most valuable part of project: Probably the actual marriage, which happened after we left.

Quote from a different community member who watched the project.
"I think our taubes were a hit!" One of the company girls, age XX, who attended the wedding.
"This is the first time - I don't think there will ever be a second time!" XXX, age XX, who attended the wedding from the company.
"Dance! Get up and Dance!" Ali's mother, age XX, who was the mother of the groom

What are areas where you want to improve?
The taube-wearing project needs to improve, since they were falling off all the time. I think probably wearing a taube for the first time to a wedding wasn't the best idea; it would have been better to practice on some other occasion. But I don't know what other occasion because they really are quite some thing to look at.
We didn't get to meet the bride. I think we should have tried to connive a way to meet the bride. It didn't fully feel like a wedding without a bride. However, our Sue dan ese colleagues were with us and they felt this was appropriate so I must accept their approach.

Describe photo 1
C.H. took the photo. Ali is dancing with a gun. It was taken at the wedding. It shows how happy he was, and the way they celebrate a wedding.

1 comment:

Tamara @ Living Palm said...

so interesting! thanks for sharing this with us.

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