Skip to main content

What It Takes to Get a Doctorate

No, I have no plans to get a doctorate!  But John is working on his.  He is getting is degree under the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies which works in conjunction with Middlesex University.  

So when he gets his official piece of paper it will be from Middlesex University.  He is doing his research on the Songhai music and its use in church (that's a very simplified'll have to talk to him personally if you want to know more!).  He is working on it part-time, so it will take about six years.  I think he is about half way through it now.

The British system is quite different from the American system so what I describe here may be quite different than what you've heard other people talk about.  Even within the US, I've heard of very different procedures for obtaining a degree.  Because John does not live in Oxford, most of his degree involves research.  He doesn't go to classes at all.  He is required to be in Oxford six weeks every year.  While he is there he attends seminars presented by other students, but he doesn't go to classes at all.

So, here are some of the things John does in his work towards getting a degree.

Lots and lots of reading, studying, and taking notes.  He has accumulated quite a library of books on worship, music, and Songhai history.  

We've visited and observed in lots and lots of churches.
 Sometimes the pastor asks him to come sit up front with the other important people (and the flower decorations).

He interviews lots and lots of people.  Some of these interviews have involved staying overnight in a village.   Some of the interviews are in English, some in Songhai or Zarma (dialects of the same language), and some in French.  Doing research in three languages is really quite complicated!  John records the interviews and then we have to write out a transcript of the recording.  This sounds easy, but believe me, it's NOT!  Next time the TV news is on, try typing out everything that is said.  That will give you an idea of what it's complicate that by putting it in another language and with noise in the background like planes taking off and goats bleating.

I've been helping him with some of these transcriptions, but I don't get nearly as many done as he does!

Once we have an interview transcribed, he goes over it with his research assistant who is an English student at the university.  Zarma is his mother tongue, but he also speaks excellent French and English.  He really helps to catch some of the mistakes we make....things we thought we heard, but didn't really.

Once all these interviews are transcribed, his assistant will also help him translate segments of them into English. 

Some fun things we have done is attended a concert of a local well-known musician whose band is called Mamar Kassey.  

We have also visited the musical instrument museum in Niamey to research types of traditional instruments.
 And John would like to take lessons on a traditional musical instrument.

As he goes along, John is writing, submitting, and presenting parts of his dissertation.  So it's a continuous on-going process.  I'm pretty sure we'll both be glad when it's over!


It's been a long time since I visited. I'm thankful to see you are doing well! Very interesting post! God bless you!

Popular posts from this blog

Practice Hospitality

My mother-in-law, Jean, is an amazing person with many gifts.  One of the first things I noticed about her when I was but a young bride, was her gift of hospitality.  It was nothing for her to invite a large group of people over, make each one feel welcome, cook a big meal,and seemingly do it without stressing herself out.  I don't know if hospitality just came naturally to her or if she learned it.  In this picture you can see Jean throwing a party for a class she taught in Nigeria.  

I believe that for me it has been a learned skill.  My parents were hospitable and it wasn't unusual for us to have guests over (though usually not as many at a time as my mother-in-law would do!).  But when I started living on my own, I had to learn hospitality.  The first time I invited somebody over for a meal, the lid got stuck on the pot of vegetables, I put too much salt or soda or something in the muffins, and I forgot to serve milk and sugar with the hot drinks.  I've gotten much bett…

Meat Roll-ups

Tonight I made meat roll-ups.  And I got to use some ingredients that made food prep much easier than normal!  I did make two batches of rolls so that John could have a lactose-free meal.

The first thing to do is to brown some hamburger.  With the main batch I stirred a tin of mushroom soup into the browned meat.  For John's batch, I stirred in flour, some almond milk, and seasonings just enough to moisten it, but not to make it really runny.  In Niger, I would make it the second way since we don't have tinned soup.

Next I made a batch of biscuit dough using Bisquick.  Of course, in Niger, I have to make the biscuit dough from scratch.  I mixed it up with the almond milk.  Once the dough is rolled out in a strip, spread the meat mixture on it.  Roll it up like you would cinnamon rolls and cut into slices.  Lay the slices on a cookie sheet and cook in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.

While they're baking, I browned fresh mushrooms in butter (in Niger I would use tinned mushroo…

Happenings in November

Well, here we are, more than half way through December, and I'm just now getting around to telling you about November.  It was a fun, busy, and eventful month.  We were still on vacation and we got in a lot of good family time during the month.

We were still in Ohio with Suz and Theo at the beginning of the month.  Suz and Theo were working hard to get Hezekiah to gain weight.  He kept losing weight for the first few weeks of his life, but he's doing great now.  We tried to spend as much time as possible with Tera so Suzanne could concentrate on adjusting to the new baby ... but mostly just because we wanted to and we enjoy her so much.  

We also tried to get in as many baby snuggles as we could.

Whenever we are in the area, my dad's cousin, Jeanne, invites us for a meal. She is actually closer to me in age than to my dad, so I've always just considered her a cousin and don't try to figure out if she's a second cousin or a first cousin once removed.  Whatever the …