Dissertation Defense Announcement

 College of Communication and Fine Arts annonunces the Final Dissertation Defense of

Christine Platt

for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

June 25, 2019 at 11:00 AM in University Center ,Room 208

Advisor: Dr. Joy Goldsmith

A Failed Clean Water Intervention in the Haitian Central Plateau

ABSTRACT: Secular and non-secular mission efforts to developing countries continue to grow and "voluntourism" is at an all-time high. The literature is corpulent with examples of failed mission health interventions. However, a noticeable gap exists of studies that address conflict leading to intervention failures as a result of intercultural communication. The purpose of this exploratory is to better understand intercultural communication challenges existing in short-term medical missions (STMMs) by better understanding the lived experience of participants of a clean water intervention in the Haitian Central Plateau. The intervention was planned and executed after the devastating 2010 earthquake and resulting cholera outbreak. Within twelve months, non-compliance, hoarding, and alternative use of water filter parts was reported. My aim in this study was to more clearly understand how participants lived the clean water intervention, how it informed understanding of clean water, and what the analysis would reveal about communication dimension differences between the participants and the mission volunteers. To address my research questions, I performed a longitudinal ethnomethodological study in two phases using multiple data sources including interviews, focus groups, researcher and participant directed photographs, and journal notes. Under the umbrella of template analysis, I chose the PEN-3 cultural model as the framework for the study. With the lens built through analysis using the PEN-3 domains, I grew to better understand factors that directly contributed to the reported behaviors and their cause. First, with a strong desire to please mission volunteers, rooted in communication dimensions established through hundreds of years of colonialism, participants masterfully executed scripted-like facework as "the grateful receiver". Second, avoidance of divergent topics led participants to evading important confounding factors like "the old ways", or voodoo. Third, participants exhibited low uncertainty avoidance, making preventative health action less likely. Finally, participants demonstrated low expectations of control due to descriptions of powerlessness resulting from structural violence in rural Haiti. As researcher and volunteer, in ethnographic style, I also provide personal reflections on these and other personal thoughts at turns in the study.