Nothing can replace, however, the experience resulting from a personal experience with a group of cultures that are being studied. Ethnography, therefore, is perhaps the best way to provide a detailed and in-depth description of the life and culture of any given people group (Frickle 583).
As a student of the social sciences, the process of ethnography proved most valuable. In order to better understand the cultural construct that exists in Northern Virginia/D.C. area, this author embarked on a field assignment to West Potomac Park in Washington D.C. The purpose was to observe and then to write out a qualitative report of what was discovered. This is information that could not be discovered by merely reading the accounts of others. This student needed to get outside, observe the world around him with a social lens, and make observations based on first hand experiences and accounts. What follows is a background of the study, followed by a brief summary of findings discovered during the ethnography.
West Potomac Park is large natural setting within the urban landscape of the D.C. area. As such, it has a unique role in allowing the residents, and visitors, of the area to escape the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the nation’s capital for an afternoon and experience true nature. Trees abound, especially cherry trees, and there is ample yard space for thousands of people to enjoy lunch under the sun, to participate in various sporting activities, or to simply enjoy some quiet time alone or with a special person (Chappell 42).
Because the D.C. area is home to hundreds of different ethnic groups, West Potomac Park provides a unique venue in which to conduct ethnography. The assumption is that, by spending time directly in the field, the researcher will encounter multiple ethnic and cultural groups. Upon observing this, then, the researcher can observe how these groups interact and the extent to which assimilation is