this interview is with my Grandmother. She lives in Spokane,... speak over the phone. I typed the transcript as she... Cultural Interview with My Grandmother

Cultural Interview with My Grandmother
Description/Context: I chose the subject of age for my topic of agency or lack of agency and
this interview is with my Grandmother. She lives in Spokane, Washington and so we had to
speak over the phone. I typed the transcript as she spoke and the sum total of our conversation
was approximately thirty five minutes of topic related interview. I wanted to choose someone
that I knew because the subject of agency or non-agency related issues seem to be a sensitive
subject. Even though they are generalized with non-descript labels, it is really speaking about a
privileged perspective gaining insight from a non-privileged point of view. I wanted to make
sure that whomever I interviewed with feel comfortable talking about their situation without
editing out the details that may be important or relative to this assignment. I was confident that
I would be successful with this goal when interviewing my Grandmother, but even as we spoke I
still tried to be respectful with the type of questions that I asked.
Analysis: When I thought about my questions and how I wanted to frame them, I realized it was
more important to keep them general and let my Grandmother fill in the details. Often people
feel guarded or will change their tone of voice when they feel coached or guided towards a
particular answer. I also wanted to make sure that I did not ask questions that were pointed or
obvious as to what I expected the answer to be; I didn’t want to assume that I already knew
what she was going to say like one of the Stumbling Blocks from Barna.
After reading the handout on empathy, I kept in mind that it was important to make my
Grandmother feel that what she had to say was taken more as advice than as a science project
that was going to be shared with others. It was easier for me to listen and not debate the things
she shared because I value her experience and respect the advice that she has to give.
Application and Reflection: The overall feeling I got from my conversation with my
Grandmother is that even though you are busy, it still feels kind of lonely. You aren’t able to do
what you used to be able to do, and you are constantly reminded of how much older you are.
Even when people try to be nice or respectful, it is still a reminder that you are at an age that
people act differently towards you. That sadness changed the questions I asked because I didn’t
want my Grandmother to dwell on anything that upsets her, which is probably my own way of
accentuating something that shouldn’t be. I would change the way I approached this interview
had I to do over again, and maybe choose someone that wasn’t so close to me. I found myself
trying to lighten things, when for the purpose of the assignment, I should have dug deeper.
Something I learned from this conversation is a new fear of becoming older. When my
Grandmother states, “You feel the same inside, you feel 20 or 30 and sometimes when you look
in the mirror you’re surprised at what you see” I felt a chill in my own bones. I don’t want to be
trapped in a body that I don’t recognize. I don’t want to wake up like the movie Memento, and
learn that I am old all over again and can’t do the things that I was thinking about right after I
awoke. I had always imagined that getting older meant you had experienced enough that few
things surprised you and you would serenely pass your days doing hobbies and reflecting on
your past. I hope that getting older means something as differently as people live their lives.
I feel that I have a talent for empathy and really connect with my speaker. I know that I do my
best to imagine what they are saying are my own words, and what it is really like to walk in
their shoes. I try to listen and understand what it is they are trying to tell me without
rearranging things so it fits what I want to hear.
One of the things that I would have done differently is to interview my Grandmother in person.
I missed out on the non-verbal communication and feel that personal conversations should be
conducted personally, not over the phone. Overall, I have reinforced my reminder that I need
to call her more often and share the details of my life, even if I think they are mundane or not
the best of news. Life is only as good as the people you have around you, and I want to be as
close to her as I can in the days that I have left with her around.