Yes, I felt a bit stressed before my presentation at the Congress.
Paradoxically, to overcome the negative thoughts, I tried out an old method of catastrophizing – by considering what could have possible gone bad and the worst scenarios.
When I realized that actually even forgetting English would not have been that bad, as I could have been speaking, for example, Belarusian then (as the audience was predominantly Belarusian), I got the idea. ‘Nothing bad can happen. I will present my work-in-progress and receive a constructive feedback. As simple as that’.
It is easy to miss the forest for the trees and forget that what really does matter is a concise message coming from a presentation. Therefore, I went for slides with main talking points. Worked well for me. And I do hope the audience could follow it without being disrupted.
How to Enhance My Research Design
Surprisingly, I felt relatively confident when discussing my research and addressing questions and remarks. ‘There are some concrete findings standing behind my presentation. There is a lot of readings that I have done so far too’, I thought to myself.
After the presentation I heard an interesting question and suggestion regarding selection criteria for interviews. Division of types into a few categories, such as, for example, politically/socially active/non-active churchgoers seems relevant to my research design.
Another question regarded the process of recruiting people to my pilot study, and dealing with drop-outs. Interestingly, a few other people in my session have made a religion-related research recently, and they shared experience similar to mine.
Why Protestant Minorities in Belarus and Ukraine Matter?
The last question has hit the nail on the head, though – ‘why I am studying the Protestant minorities at all? Why do they matter in the predominantly Orthodox countries?’ Simple but brilliant question. ‘Recently Protestantism has become a global phenomena, for example, in Latin America, Africa. Similar dynamics are also taking place in the post-Soviet space’, I started explaining.
Despite the fact that Protestants constitute a small minority, both in Belarus and Ukraine,
they actually often remain vibrant, often empowering individuals and communities, encouraging them for social and political activities, at the local and national levels.
In my view, Protestants constitute also a part of the civil society, as other religious institutions.
Although, I see some correlation between strong civil society and Protestantism , I cannot state that Protestantism provides answers to all social/political problems.