Some of the 87 Steps it Takes to Get a Meeting in Dakar

Step 1: Arrive in Dakar (there’s a bunch of steps before this one, but that’s WAYYYY too much to include in this post)
Step 2: Go to the research center I am affiliated with and discuss the steps to a successful research project while I am here.
Step 3: Phone call from liaison to organization resulting in an appointment TOMORROW. YAY.
Step 4: Meet with potential translator because my French skills are not interview worthy and my Wolof skills are worse.
Step 5: Hire translator. Language barrier mediated.
Step 6: Meet translator the following morning and travel to the organization.
Step 7: Arrive at organization. Ask to meet with person who scheduled the interview. They’re busy.
Step 8: Interview two other people while waiting for Person 1 to be available.
Step 9: Person 1 leaves to attend a christening.
Step 10: Conclude interview with Persons 2 & 3.
Step 11: Return to research center and plan to visit with Person 1 another day.
Step 12: Phone calls from liaison to other organizations requesting meetings.
Step 13: Three days later, no results.
Step 14: Monday morning, hopefully some returned phone calls.
Step 15: Nope.
Step 16: Add new organizations to the list and expand the search. Include email inquiries to organizations without phone numbers.
Step 17: Call the wrong phone number for an organization 5 times because the numbers listed online are incorrect.
Step 18: Not going to that organization because no one knows where it is or how to contact them.
Step 19: Three days in the library waiting for responses.
Step 20: Nope. Nothing.
Step 21: Revisit first organization, which is no longer busy. Have brief interview with Person 1 and find out interesting things.
Step 22: Monday morning again. Visit 2 organizations. One requests a phone call on Wednesday to schedule an interview for Thursday or Friday. The other requests a phone call on Thursday to schedule an interview for the following Tuesday.
Step 23: Did I mention I’ve been in email contact with the second organization and haven’t received a response about an interview in over a week? (Neither has my liaison, who contacted them before I was looped into the conversation)
Step 24: Return to research center to explain when phone calls were requested. Email another organization I visited independently asking for a follow-up about a potential interview.
Step 25: Starting to confuse the liaison with the response schedule. Offer to visit her office in person later in the week to remind her about specific phone calls.
Step 26: Wednesday. Liaison phones the organization asking for an interview on Thursday or Friday (as was requested by the organization). She is told to call back at 4pm.
Step 27: Liaison calls back at 4pm. No answer. The phone just rrrriiinnngggsss….
Step 28: Revisit first organization (again) to ask for interview with Person 1, since the liaison cannot connect with them via email or phone.
Step 29: Upon arrival, we are told that Person 1 is not in the city today due to a conference.
Step 30: Agree to wait until Person 2 returns from  other business to do the follow-up, instead.
Step 31: Person 1 arrives at the office. It appears she did not attend the conference.
Step 32: Wait an hour for Person 1 to visit the conference room so I can explain that I am there to speak with them.
Step 33: Person 1 is still too busy and asks us to call back on Friday to ask for an interview on Monday.
Step 34: Go to research center and explain the new request. Liaison expresses frustration that no one is answering her calls or emails. I offer to send more emails to expats I have met doing similar work.
Step 35: Liaison says it’s time to be bold and pushy, because I am running out of time.
Step 36: Confused, yet?
Step 37: Us, too.
Step 38: See research center director. He asks how my research is going.
Step 39: Politely explain some of the communication difficulties between the liaison and the organizations. Reiterate that I am learning a lot from my stay in Dakar, but am having trouble collecting enough data. Also reiterate how great the liaison has been throughout the entire process.
Step 40: Research center director offers to speak with the liaison to figure out how to better support my project and encourage cooperation from other organizations.
Step 41: Cannot send emails from the research center. The internet doesn’t work on my laptop today.
Step 42: Read research articles instead.
Step 43: Return to flat so I may use the internet to send emails.
Step 44: Receive email confirming one meeting for tomorrow, with the organization I visited independently.
Step 45: Exchange emails to set up an interview on Monday with one of the expats I met.
Step 46: Write this post because the process of scheduling interviews is still far from over, and this was not even the detailed list of what we have done so far to make theses meetings/interviews happen

Phew. Hope you all enjoyed the long post! It’s just another way of describing how time and flexibility work together for researchers in Senegal.

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