2018 Summer Fellow
Claire Babcock was born and raised in Bozeman, Montana. She attended the University of Montana and studied sociology, with an emphasis on inequality and social justice. Claire worked at a grassroots political nonprofit prior to her time as a summer research fellow for the American Voices Project. She currently resides in Providence, Rhode Island.
Q&A with Claire
What was a typical day like as a research fellow?
My partner and I would start the day by strategizing about recruitment, then we would drive to the neighborhood where we were working. Often we would have an interview scheduled for the afternoon. The rest of the day was dedicated to making phone calls and setting schedules. Depending on how the day and interview went, we would use the drive back to decompress, discuss the interview, listen to music, or write field notes.
What was recruiting and interviewing like in rural areas?
The homes in these areas tended to be quite far apart, and we often had to carefully map our route from one house to the next. The roads were bumpy, dusty, and unpredictable. Once, we ran over a nail and got a flat tire—we changed the tire ourselves! Many people in rural areas had warning signs, fences, and dogs in order to keep strangers out. Despite the challenges, my partner and I conducted some of our most touching, fascinating, and profound interviews with the families we met in these neighborhoods.
What did you learn from your experiences working with the American Voices Project?
I was stunned – and touched – by people’s willingness to welcome me into their homes as a stranger and discuss such complicated subjects as race, gender, class, addiction, trauma, and mental illness with me. I saw the profound influence that place, community, and policy can have on people.