In the spring and summer of 2013, Georgetown student Janine Duffy embarked on a project to learn more about the area’s rapidly changing taxi industry. With the support of the Kalmanovitz Initiative undergraduate research fellowship, she worked with Tenants and Workers United in Alexandria, VA, on reforms to the city’s taxicab code.
“The drivers with whom I worked and spoke emigrated from countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea and varied across lines of age, education, and years of driving,” she said. The experience inspired her to dig deeper and learn more about the nature of work in the taxi industry.
“I then interviewed nine drivers working in Alexandria and Arlington County the following fall to gather their perspectives on the taxi industry, the United States, and the impact on their families here and abroad,” she explained.
Janine compiled what she learned from the oral histories of the taxi drivers into an interactive website called Taxi! that explores themes central to the life and work of area taxi drivers in their own words. Topics include independence, competition, and family life.
Janine was inspired by her experience with the KI’s Day Laborer Exchange program as well as her leadership in organizations like UNICEF Georgetown and Alternative Spring Break to take on this project.