Week One Plan

In the first week working in Langrug, our main focus will be on jointly developing an activity that promotes a cooperative relationship between co-researchers and our team. Another of our objectives that we want to begin tackling is to gain an initial understanding of the communication needs of the co-researchers. In order to build this very crucial foundation to our relationship with the co-researchers, we have chosen to pursue several key areas to better understand each other and begin working together as one whole team. These areas include friendship, an overview of the current situation and community, expectations for the following seven weeks and an initial understanding of the communication needs of the co-researchers in relation to the community and the DIHS. For each of these goals, we’ve compiled a list of possible activities that we can initiate based on input from co-researchers and at our own discretion. In planning these activities, we’ve decided to focus on communication through physical projects, drawing, mapping and movement accompanied by explanations. This strategy is based on the co-researcher relationships documented by the 2011 CTPC WaSH team. They found that a breakthrough in communication with the co-researchers occurred when they clarified the role the co-researchers should play as equal partners in the project, used drawing in tandem with discussion to stimulate co-researcher engagement and bonded with and empowered the co-researchers through physical labor (Siemian, Shooshan, Sheppard, & Kenney, 2011). With these successful tactics in mind, we set out to create our tentative plans for our first week in Langrug working with the co-researchers.


Friendship and Trust

In order to initially open the lines of communication between our team and the co-researchers, a foundation of friendship and trust must be formed. This can be achieved by getting to know one another on a personal level so we can better cooperate and communicate in the future. This will foster the development of a strong working relationship.


Name Tags– As a very basic introductory exercise, decorating name tags that showcase a little bit of creativity and depict things each individual considers important about themselves, will help us get to know each other’s names and some personality. We will need paper or stick-on name tags and writing implements to complete this activity.


Personal Backgrounds– To get to know each other on a more friendly, personal level, we plan to share pictures of our families and lives back home and encourage the co-researchers to do the same either that day or in the future. This will allow our teams to get to know each other better, see what we have in common and learn a little about our respective families and cultures.


Xhosa Lessons– To demonstrate interest in the lives and culture of the co-researchers as well as help our communication abilities with them and other community members, we believe that asking for some basic Xhosa lessons will be a fun and informative activity. Perhaps we will come up with a list of phrases to ask for translations, but it will also be interesting to see what words or phrases that the co-researchers think are most important that we learn in Xhosa.


Food– In Xhosa communities, food is used as a way of connection and preservation of cultural traditions. The preparation and sharing of food allows for informal communication that could not only build trust but also provide insight into the daily lives of community members (Jolly, 2006). Even in American culture, eating food together is seen as a way of connecting and communicating with close friends and family. We want to incorporate sharing food, especially lunches, during our work day as a means of connecting with the co-researchers and sharing our respective lives and cultures.


Current Status & Community Overview

It is crucial that we gain an extensive understanding of the Langrug community and all of its intricacies, especially during this critical time as it undergoes upgrading. In the first week, we want to learn all we can about the physical layout of Langrug including social hubs and areas of communing. We also hope to begin to understand the complexities of the social and communication networks that exist within Langrug as well as the role the leadership hierarchy plays in those webs.

Scavenger Hunt– A fun way to get a tour of Langrug while also gleaning information about the community as well as the co-researchers is to design a simple scavenger hunt. We plan to ask the co-researchers questions to get them to show us around Langrug in a more interesting way than a simple tour. We can also learn a little more about the co-researchers and their daily lives. On one hand, this strategy allows us to pose questions that are more specific to our project, therefore giving us a greater chance of getting answers to things we really want to know. On the other hand, this activity can be a way to observe the co-researchers’ communication skills. Therefore, it will also be important to open-endedly ask the co-researchers what they would like to show us in their community to gain insight into areas they feel are most important. Nevertheless, this activity also demonstrates our interest in their community, culture and lives, which is another way to foster initial trust and friendship between our groups.

Mapping Langrug– Though the physicality of the scavenger hunt has been shown to be more beneficial than sedate conversation, asking the co-researchers to create simple sketches of their community can also be beneficial in fostering conversation and understanding. This activity can be done with or instead of the scavenger hunt. It can also be done in conjunction with photography if the co-researchers would feel more comfortable taking pictures instead of drawing.

DIHS Meetings– In the first week, the liaison from our sponsoring organisation, David Carolissen, has promised that we will get an extensive orientation to the government, the community leadership hierarchy and other logistics about Langrug’s people and culture. We were also told that we’d be meeting prominent officials in the area including the mayor of Stellenbosch, local councilman, the Langrug Community Committee and various other community leaders. Through these meetings, we will build even more background contextual knowledge that will shape and enhance our interactions with the co-researchers.

Co-researcher Project Reports– We plan to ask co-researchers to tell us about their current areas of work and challenges they’ve encountered, which will serve three main purposes. First, this exercise will allow us to learn about their projects and begin to formulate different strategies that could be implemented to ease communication issues. Second, this activity will allow us to gauge the reporting skills and general communication skills the co-researchers possess. These skills are important for the co-researchers to report their individual projects as well as the overall upgrading project developments to the community, the DIHS and other interested organisations. Thirdly, it will allow us to bring up the very important topic of the role, responsibilities and challenges of the co-researcher model that WPI has created in the CTPC. It’s crucial to understand how the co-researchers view their position so that we can help define their responsibilities in a more comprehensive way. This will hopefully help the community and government to be more satisfied with their role in Langrug. It will also be important to ask how the co-researchers feel the community perceives the work they are doing as well as any opposition they’ve encountered from community members. Pictorial representations are a possibility to help co-researchers communicate their ideas, whether they draw simple pictures or some sort of diagrams to convey their project ideas. Photography or videography are other options if sketching ideas is not effective. A conversation surrounding the co-researcher role is definitely something that needs to happen at some point pretty early on in this process to gain a better understanding of their communication challenges.



It’s crucial that our project team and the co-researcher team get on the same page and integrate our two groups into one cohesive project team with one set of goals and outlooks. To achieve this team assimilation, we first need to share our expectations for our time together as well as what each of us want to learn from this experience.

Pictorial Representations– In order to convey our expectations for the project to each other, our team will participate in a drawing activity with the co-researchers. This will occur in an open-ended format where we all draw several skills or tools we want to learn as well as the goals we want to achieve during our time in Langrug. The drawings or pictures will be used to foster conversation so we can learn each other’s goals and expectations for our project. Another alternative activity could be taking pictures or making videos to represent and explain the hopes of the group. Both of these methods will foster discussion and hopefully convey enough information to get us all on the same page in terms of objectives and expectations. This will serve as a good beginning to creating one cohesive project team comprised of our WPI team and the co-researchers.



Beyond Week One