Adventures in St. Lucia

December 17, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

Below is a write up from PMC’s Program Assistant, Wendi Stein. She is with our country representative for Eastern Caribbean , Alleyne Regis, and the team from Emergent Media Center (EMC). They are in St. Lucia for the week testing episode one of our electronic game to end violence against women.

For more information on this project, please visit our site or EMC’s blog.
December 15, 2009
On Tuesday the team met to walk through the tests and do a practice run. It turned out to be a very late night for some of the students who were fixing parts of the test straight into early morning.

December 16, 2009
On Wednesday we went met with students from the Dennery Primary School on the east coast of the island and in the small fishing village where PMC’s regional representative, Alleyne Regis, is from and still lives. It was a beautifully sunny and hot day. The students, 18 boys and 1 girl ranging in age from 9 to 16-years-old, were very polite. Kids are on vacation from school now. The original plan was to have one EMC student facilitate and take notes with two participants. Once we were at the site and seeing we had five separate classrooms to work in, they decided to have one facilitator and one observer/notetaker per participant group. This worked out well. At this school, there were walls between classrooms, but at least one side was made of decorative cement blocks with openings to keep the classroom cool. At Dennery, it was fairly quiet, but at other schools we were not so fortunate.

After eating lunch at Plante’s Place, a local eatery where there were no menus, just had to find out what they were cooking that day, we headed for Vieux Fort, the southern tip of the island.

The Vieux Fort Primary School was very similar to the setup in Dennery. EMC students tested with 11 boys ranging in age from 10 to 15.

The St. Lucia pretest was comprised of five components: Episode 1 which includes voiceovers and reading text and introduction to the minigames (football skill building); Design to see if participants understood how their choices, positive or negative, were connected to rewards; Marketing; Art Environments and Models; and Minigames. It took about two hours to run all the tests.

Floating from classroom to classroom, I observed bits and pieces of the tests. It was interesting to watch the students engage in the minigames. They were quite engaged. Because there were two three, or four participants in a group, it was fascinating to see how they would sometimes help one another figure out a game, sometimes collaborate, and often be very animated in their reactions whether they succeeded in the game or not.

Participants were shown renderings of two of the character models, Mary (player’s sister) and John (negative character in our story). The renderings were drawn with Mary as 13 and John at 15. We were pretty much on target with participants pegging the characters within a year or two of what we intended. When asked what they would change to make the drawing better, some participants wanted the Mary to have bigger breasts!

After the testing was completed, Alleyne and I in his truck, and the rest of the team with our driver Baby Ras in the van took us up to the lighthouse where we had a gorgeous view of the Atlantic ocean and St. Martin in the distance on one side and the Pitons and the Caribbean Sea on the other.

December 17, 2009

We started the day in the rain and headed to the capitol and nearby Castries. Even though Castries is only a few miles away, you must plan on running into heavy traffic. The site in Castries differed greatly from the two previous sites. Fourteen boys age 10 to 15 met us in a community center that is part town hall, part gymnasium. Three EMC teams were in one big hall, while one team was in a backroom closet, and the other in the main entry way. The noise from traffic, construction, a rain downpour, and a garbage truck, made conducting the tests challenging. When participants were shown the renderings of two characters and asked where in the world do you think they are from, there was a wide variety of answers – Brazil, Caribbean (but not here), U.S., Canada, Britain, and a hotel.

We had a very long and windy road trip from Castries to Soufriere. Thank goodness I was riding with Alleyne in his truck in the front. I also took some Dramamine and for good measure wore those wrist seabands so I was in pretty good shape. Heather from CC was not feeling too good. About halfway Alleyne had us stop at a very unusual place that makes flavored bread type cakes from cassava, a root vegetable. Flavors included coconut, salt, cherry, cinnamon raison, chocolate, and others. Sort of along the lines of differently flavored bagels. Definitely a local treat.

We arrived in Soufriere where one of the resorts was just voted best honeymoon spot in the WORLD. You get gorgeous views of the Piton mountains here. There was a miscommunication with our contact in Soufriere in spite of Alleyne’s several attempts to clarify our purpose and needs. Our contact got in touch with his soccer coach to round up team members for the test. Somehow the coach interpreted this as a soccer match with the Americans. By the time we arrived, our participants were on the pitch and had spectators in the stadium stand. They thought that the U.S. team didn’t show up and had started an impromptu match with another team from Castries (where we had just been). And it rained too. Ann, Alison (lead QA), and I walked over to the stadium to talk to the coach. It became very clear that there was no way we would be able to pull kids from the field or stopping the match. They love their football. We either had to wait 2 hours or do something else. We ended up selecting kids from the stands. While we were next to a school, we ended up conducting our test in an administrative building. Again, 3 teams were in one larger room and 2 teams were in a smaller conference room area. Teams were very close together in both areas, so again that made it a little challenging. The nice thing was that the building had AC and it was very hot and humid in Soufriere. In the meantime, we had more kids than we needed so Ann and I sat on the stairs to the building sheltered from the rain by a tin roof and asked select marketing questions from eight of the kids who had followed us from the stadium.

Because of the miscommunication we ended our testing at around 5 p.m., the exact time when the nearby tourist site, an active volcano you can drive through, closed. Bummer. We had dinner on the shore viewing a beautiful sunset over the Caribbean Sea as a cruise ship departed from Soufriere.

IMG_3138 Vieux Fort (JRR)

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