Meet Calyn, our Qualitative Researcher
Hi, I’m Calyn, I grew up in Durban. I moved to Cape Town to study, however, I fell in love with the city and haven’t left since. I am a feminist! I love learning and sharing good conversations with people.
There are two pieces of work I’m involved in currently that is quite exciting. The first, I am working with Sofia Salas Ungar on creating a research strategy from the OU mission “inform, empower, activate”. The second project is working with the vulekamali team implementing the civic information drives. I find the nexus between citizen, government and civil society enriching. Listening to the groups engage with each other is insightful. My work inspires me because it allows me to contribute to equity in South Africa from a systems and processes perspective.
I set a goal going into my honours year that I wanted to be awarded my degree, Cum Laude. This was largely because I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve that grade. I ended my year with roughly 73%. This was largely because I had never written a thesis before. I struggled to navigate the relationship with my supervisor. I knew I was struggling and I asked for help, however, looking back I realised I should have acknowledged my challenges more and been more vocal about needing help.
I started noticing the emergence of technology in rather unique ways in my Justice and Transformation assigned course readings. For example, in 2017 the ICC put out a warrant of arrest that was based largely on social media evidence or that soldiers in the Congo communicated via WhatsApp. I wanted to explore ICTs in a transitional justice setting. This led me to OU, I asked them about interning and excitedly, they accepted me. After my internship, I began working as a researcher here.
I get a lot of support from the senior team members at OU — Jd, Adrian, Deena and Shaun- often listen to me and share about their experiences. Having their support helps me manage the uncertainty that comes with working for the first time.
At home, my partner supports me. We have a couple of processes that help us check in with each other and ourselves.
I think the trust and belief my parents and siblings have in me, helps me believe in myself. It is also great knowing they have my back.
There is still a lot I am learning about Feminism. I’m grateful to be able find resources on feminism and learn more about it. I think it helps me find context for the things I feel and see. If it deeply resonates with me, I then try and see if it can be applied in my research, in my conversations around the office and with others.
Gender parity is important to me. Currently, I’ve thought about and shared on gender parity in the tech space. I want women to feel safe in the world and in their relationships.
One of the most liberating things I’ve learnt (something that is reinforced at OU) is that you don’t have to be “perfect” or produce perfect things. Mistakes can be opportunities to improve and grow if we let them be. Be kinder to yourself and with your expectations.
I am a writer on the OU medium blog. I think this is a good place to follow my learning on these topics. Also, I have a medium blog, Calyn Pillay.