My UEA Story: Viviane Lucia Fluck
Name: Viviane Lucia Fluck
School: International Development
Research area: Participatory communication and community resilience: a case study of humanitarian radio after typhoon Haiyan
Bio: I’m originally from Germany but have made Norwich my home for six years. In 2008 I was studying Mandarin in Sichuan when the province was hit by a major earthquake. I started to first volunteer and then work in the disaster response. Because of this experience I studied a MA in Media & International Development at UEA and after that a PhD focusing on participatory communication and community resilience.
My name is Viviane Lucia Fluck and my research is about participatory communication and community resilience against disasters.
Why is your research important?
My research is one of the first attempts to actually understand what role communication can play in a disaster.
What could your research mean in the real world?
It can help non-governmental organisations in humanitarian response to tailor their response better to community needs. It can influence policy about disaster resilience and communication and it can even be applied to different contexts, for example community building.
What fascinates you about this research area?
I was in a disaster myself, I was living in China at the time and there was a massive earthquake of 7.9. A lot of people lost their lives and I started working in the disaster response and so this is what really captured my interest and UEA then enabled me to sort of get the theoretical knowledge to add to my practical experience.
This was during my second field trip in 2014. I had just arrived in Guiuan, in the Philippines two days before. It’s early but I don’t feel too jetlagged. I have unpacked my few belongings in the tiny Bungalow hut I’m renting. The roof is made of corrugated iron sheets, which leaves plenty of room for various critters to come and visit me.
After brushing my teeth and taking a bucket shower in my bathroom I realise that the weather isn’t great. Not only isn’t it great it is really bad. I get a text from one of my key informants that the really bad weather is a typhoon that is moving towards us and that it’s best to stay inside.
I had some water and a cookie as I didn’t get around to buying any food yet. I read a bit of a novel I brought. I send a message to my boyfriend who’s currently in a totally different time zone in South Sudan.
I write a first field note on my laptop musing about the fact that while I study disaster resilience I feel extremely ill prepared for this typhoon. I crave a radio with weather updates to tell me… Anything. It’s about knowing how much stronger the typhoon might get but also about hearing the voice of another human.
The wind is battering my little hut and I’m considering the different options of where to go if this was a stronger typhoon. Probably the bathroom, because that’s the only enclosed concrete part of the bungalow… I’m not worried, as I know it’s not a strong typhoon but I feel I can relate a bit more to the isolation of an information blackout that some of my research participants felt.
Electricity is gone this does happen fairly easily, so still nothing to worry too much about but that means that my laptop and phone, will be dead soon. I eat a boiled egg, more water and more cookies and curse myself for not having bought more food immediately. More reading, more looking out of the window. Once a while an update on the progress of the typhoon from one of my key respondents until the phone battery is dead.
It starts getting dark and since there’s no electricity and both my laptop and phone are dead I’m almost ready to go to bed and try to sleep. However, a friend of Ate Nene’s, my landlady comes over with a little charged solar lamp and to ask if I’m okay.
Electricity is back on for a bit and I can charge my laptop and send a few messages. The wind is already weaker and so I go to sleep a lot richer in understanding about my research subject and with a strong determination to never wait with food shopping when travelling during typhoon season.