Five Global Health Fellows from the Class of 2020 attended the Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference, April 13-15, 2018, at Yale University. Here are their reflections on the weekend:
This past weekend, the Global Health Fellows were granted with the opportunity to attend the Unite for Sight Conference, the leading global health and social entrepreneurship conference in the world. Hosted at Yale University, this thought-provoking event convened many participants from all over the globe, including teachers, business professionals, economists, professors, doctors, and lawyers with the common goal to improve health inequity, social injustice, and access to safe, affordable care. During the conference, we attended lectures on cultural competence, global engagement and innovation, health policy and advocacy, and technology’s social impact, hosted by an insightful group of professionals with a comprehensive expertise in their fields. One of my favorite lectures of the weekend, presented by James Clarke, an African ophthalmologist working for Unite for Sight organization in Ghana, offered an intriguing lesson about culture shock and the unequaled importance of one’s culture. He explained through his striking anecdotes that his years of caring for patients have taught him to cherish his own culture, charging him to dig deep and learn the hidden values of the Ghanaian peoples. It was speakers like James Clarke, who offered a diverse perspective on personal and meaningful topics, that made the overall experience of the conference so unique! Following the long first day, we visited Pablo Vasquez, a former Norfolk Academy alumni (Class of 2016) and student at Yale University (Class of 2020), who guided us around the campus and gave us an exclusive tour of the Pierson and Branford residential colleges. While touring the campus, I was truly delighted to be walking through the halls of such a historic and renowned institution. Conclusively, my experience at the Unite For Sight Conference was exceptional, and I learned a lot about successfully implementing interventions, and working with other cultures in foreign settings. After this conference, I left feeling satisfied, enlightened, inspired, and excited by the prospects of my future success working on the ground in San Antonio, Belize.
Early in the morning of Saturday, April 14th, we listened to the first lecture of many, given by Jordan Levy of Ubuntu Pathways, who discussed the process of Innovation. He said that once an idea is created, one must secure adequate funding through donors, achieve an appropriate scale, then change the status quo through human interaction. He also discussed the importance of community and donor involvement in any intervention. Following the keynote, we listened to a panel who touched on the importance of cultural sensitivity and competency as the key to overcoming cultural and social stigma. These inspiring words were very insightful as we ourselves think about implementation of our projects in Belize. Later that day, we heard from a group of professionals who were presenting their health innovations in low-resource settings. For example, Edgar Rodas, president of Cinterandes discussed his implementation of a mobile surgery truck in rural Ecuador. Following him, Shwetha Maddur of Seva Corps explained her innovative idea for the prevention of hypothermia in preterm infants, through a low-cost, transportable heating blanket. We ended Saturday with a Social Impact Lab, pertaining to refugee and immigrant health. Particularly, Dr. Ijeoma Nnodim presented her proposal of a mobile health clinic for immigrant communities in the inner city of Detroit, called Love on the Move. With the conclusion of Saturday, I was not only tired, but inspired by the innovation and insight of these professionals.
Before we had to catch a flight back home, we attended the keynote address of Sunday, in which Jeffrey Sachs, a University Professor at Columbia, discussed the importance of funding and investment to propel the Sustainable Development Goals. He also explained the correlation of U.S. aid spending and various improvements in global health. To conclude the conference for us, we attended the section on the Community Health Academy, in which they discussed this revolutionary platform for the networking and education of Community Health Workers. Having learned so much in such a short time, I feel truly inspired by the experts of the field. They have provided our program with vital information for our responsible implementation of projects in Belize.
Surrounded by countless geniuses in Global Health societies and professors from the best universities at the Unite for Sight Conference, I could not settle my nerves as I entered the big double doors leading into the architecturally beautiful Shubert Theatre. Holding my coffee and croissant from Starbucks, I sat down in a red chair and awaited the Keynote speaker, shifting through my agenda booklet. At 8:00 in the morning, introductions were made and Dr. Jordan Levy, the keynote speaker, walked onto the stage. As he began to speak, I perceived the repetition of a certain word: relationships. Dr. Levy articulated his strong belief of maintaining strong and lasting relationships with his team, locals, and the people who supported him financially. He expressed that the trust between his team and a community creates a bond that allows for a successful intervention. This theme of relationships was repeated throughout the central ideas of other speakers. For example, Mrs. Annette Cycon, the creator of a Group Peer Support for women’s mental health in rural Guatemala, not only partnered with local community health workers to provide culturally-acceptable lessons for mothers and their children, but she also collaborated with another organization on the ground, the Maya Health Alliance. With this group, they conducted perinatal home visits and added more lessons to their curriculum. The act of collaboration seems to strengthen the Global Health world and produce an intervention with the best outcome.
Another highlight from this conference was the presentations of social impact pitches. This session consisted of a five-minute presentation of a budding, potential project by a young innovator. After the presentation, the audience had a limited amount of time to ask their own questions, but the stage was quickly turned over to a couple experts, who were in essence evaluating each project. The presenter was allowed to ask two of their most pressing questions to the experts, who would try their best to answer them, and in turn, would ask some of their questions and/or concerns about the project. The intense setting created by the long pauses as presenters considered the answers to complex questions from the “judges” made the experience much more fascinating (however I did feel a twinge of pity when a presenter admitted that she did not have an answer). Overall, the creative and ingenuity-filled projects inspired me to think outside of the box regarding my own project and to confirm that there are no blinding issues that I have disregarded.
On the plane flight back to Virginia, I reflected on my weekend and realized that although my brain was filled to the rim with incredible facts about maternal health in rural Guatemala and glaring mental health issues in refugee populations, the experience of traveling with my four best friends and the best teacher-mentor out there definitely was the biggest highlight.
On the balmy Friday morning of April 13th, Julia, Connor, Ells, Sahib, Mrs. Hall, and I excitedly departed from campus at 11:00 AM to catch our flight to New Haven, Connecticut at the Norfolk International Airport. We planned on attending the Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference, the world’s leading and largest global health conference held at Yale University. Despite a flight delay in Philadelphia, the six of us landed safely in New Haven, where we dropped off our bags at the Omni Hotel and headed out for dinner at Shake Shack.
Even though we were tired from our travels, we woke up to check in for the conference at 7:00 AM with a little help from Starbucks coffee. Jordan Levy, the keynote speaker, presented in the Shubert Theater about the importance of long-term human relationships and interactions in global health over an immediate product. We learned about the importance of authentic, truthful conversations between partners and comprehensive strategies. Following the address, we listened to a panel that further explored the importance of cultural competence and partnerships. This topic was particularly insightful and relevant to our goals in the Fellows Program.
Afterwards, we decided to divide and conquer the following sessions around campus in pairs in order to obtain the most information possible out of them. Julia and I first went to a maternal health session where we watched three presenters discuss the post-Ebola restoration of maternal and child health services in Liberia, aiding postpartum depression through support groups, and the feminization of aging women around the world. I found the second topic interesting because it directly related to our current women’s health group project. Annette Cycon, a social worker, is working to create a social curriculum to benefit women suffering from mental health issues. Mental-health-related causes of death are the most prevalent in the world, yet psychologists and psychiatrists are virtually nonexistent in developing countries. Her views and insights into cultural stigmas were fascinating.
After lunch and a debriefing session at Panera Bread, Mrs. Hall and I went to a reproductive, maternal, and child health session. We learned about BRAC’s Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents program, cervical cancer prevention in Ethiopia, a checklist for safe childbirth in Haiti, and the cost-effectiveness of quality prenatal care in Rwanda. It was an intriguing session that provided information that will certainly help our group project.
Afterwards, I went to a social impact lab with Ells. This type of session allowed three or four individuals to present their company or innovation to a panel of experts and receive advice from the audience. The topics covered were facility dogs in hospitals, health safety in nail salons, and a noninvasive treatment for detecting cervical cancer. It was interesting to watch the exchange of ideas and feedback in a professional setting. My final session on Saturday was a panel about careers in global health. I learned about the importance of not viewing it as heroism, but making sure it actually means something to you, which I enjoyed hearing.
At 7:00 PM, the six of us met with Pablo Vazquez, a Norfolk Academy alum who is a student at Yale. He gave us our own personal tour of the beautiful campus, which radiated stunning Gothic architecture full of life. It was amazing to see the libraries, gyms, and theaters all hidden within residential walls. Later on, went out to dinner with him, and Julia and I had great conversations with him about sports, routines, and everything we could ever wish to know about university life. Pablo gave us all wonderful life advice, and told us to never segment our lives and put family aside. It was great to meet him.
The following chilly Sunday morning was our last day in New Haven! We attended the keynote address given by Jeffrey D. Sachs. He spoke about the fact that global health is a right, not a luxury. It was interesting to hear his statistics given about funding and breakthroughs. Even though we couldn’t stay for the entire first session because of our early afternoon flight, we split off into pairs again to attend what we could. Sahib and I listened to a panel speak about educating community health workers. It was extremely insightful and I learned about training them though large scale social change by investing in social entrepreneurs.
At 11:00 AM, we reconvened at the Omni Hotel to catch our flight at the New Haven airport, a very small terminal with only two gates. After catching up on homework and resting on the plane, we landed safely back in Norfolk in the late afternoon.
This past weekend I attended the Unite for Sight Conference at Yale University with my fellow GHF 20s and Ms. Hall. The conference consisted of multiple 90 minute sessions on Saturday and Sunday with varying topics pertaining to global health. The sessions which I attended were: Responsible Global Engagement and Innovation Panel; Global Health Technology Social Impact Lab; Social Impact Lab: Innovative Solutions to Global Health Challenges; Building a Fulfilling Career in Global Health Panel; and Cutting-Edge Ideas in Development: GHIC Innovation Prize Semi-finalist Pitches. My favorite sessions were the social impact labs. A social impact lab is a series of presentations in which a person presents an innovation in the realm of global health. It is very similar to the show Shark Tank. The presenter has 5 minutes to present his research and project idea and then hears questions from the audience and esteemed judges. In my opinion, the best social impact pitch was Jonathan Sigworth’s which was entitled “Developing Mobile Video Courses for Spinal Cord Injury Therapy Guidance and Local Peer Mentoring Worldwide.” Sigworth’s pitch was a new app which he designed specifically for those who are paralyzed from the waist down. His app can be used to learn how to function on your own without assistance and to do activities which most people take for granted. In addition to the sessions, there was also a keynote speaker on Sunday morning. The speaker was Jeffrey Sachs who is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development and a professor at Columbia University. Mr. Sachs gave an interesting talk about the Sustainable Development Goals and how they are achievable.
All in all, this conference was a great experience and I have come out of it inspired to do more work in global health.
Morning Welcome and Team Builder with the 2021s by Anaiya Roberts (2021)
On Thursday, it was the first day of our Fellows Retreat. For the first day, all of the new entrees from the class of 2021, had their own day of initiation. The first activity of the day was supported by a prompt on saving the world from a zombie apocalypse. The entire group of 2021’s was divided into 2 teams of about 8 people of mixed Fellows groups, and we were given a box full of a variety of supplies. We were challenged with building something that would take the “anti zombie pill” and a roll of toilet paper across the “Pit of Misery” (the pool). We were on a clock of about 30 minutes to build the craft and get it across the Pit of Misery without touching it. Once we made it across the Pit of Misery, we then had to wrap a team member in the toilet paper and give them the anti zombie pill. During this activity, we as a group, and myself personally, learned that to be an efficient member of any team or group, you have to work together. That is the only way, and really, the easiest way that things will get done. What worked for our group was coming up with a plan, splitting up into groups, and carrying out the plan. Another key part, is the level of communication within a group. If only one person is talking, your group may be missing out on an idea that may be more efficient and quicker to carry out. Overall, the activity was a success among all of the 21’s, and I can say that it was a fun and exciting way to teach us these lessons.
Intro to Global Health Terminology by Erin Clayton (2021):
As we transitioned into the academic portion of our day, the 21s and Mrs. Hall, Mrs.Goodson, and Ms.Nasimiyu gathered in the Catapult Press/Old Fellows room in Batten Library. We began our global health education by watching Hans Rosling’s 200 countries, 200 years, in 4 minutes. We were able to track with the infographic how life expectancy and income were related across countries and their status in the world. Next, we watched an informative video by the Kaiser Family Foundation featuring Kellie Moss. In the video, we learned about some terms including prevalence, incidence, morbidity, mortality, the burden of disease, and DALY, or disease adjusted life expectancy. These terms are important as we discuss global health in Case Studies and in general conversations. Afterwards, we ate a delicious lunch of TASTE and discussed tips for Saturday’s case study on Obesity in Mexico.
Reflections on our Trip to Operation Blessing International by Ella Davis (2021)
As we piled into two cars prepared for our first field trip, our groups worked on individual “elevator pitches” during the 40 minute drive. While heading down just above North Carolina, there were many long discussions about the elevator pitches and how to describe what the Global Health Fellowship is. After a fun-filled journey, we arrived at the Operation Blessing Mosquito Lab where we were greeted by Holly Beistline. She showed us into a conference room and introduced many issues related to global health. In Kenya, there are problems involving childbirth for women in villages with no technology and the nearest health clinic a 4 hours walk away.
Holly told us about her experience with a woman named Naomi who had preeclampsia during labor. Her limbs were swollen, however the Community Health Worker (CHW) who was trained by Operation Blessing was able to refer her to go to a health clinic (instead of eating goat fat) where she was able to successfully give birth to twins. Without the assistance of the CHW and Operation Blessing, the death of Naomi and her twins was very likely, and it showed us the developing countries’ daily struggles to survive without resources we take for granted here in the U.S.
After that impacting presentation, we were introduced to the dangers of mosquitoes who carry Zika. We were taught that mosquitoes carrying Zika are able to penetrate a pregnant woman’s placenta, giving the disease the ability to deform the child. There was a huge breakout in Brazil, and Operation Blessing has spent the past years coming up with ways to reduce the amounts of mosquitoes in places such as Brazil and Haiti. We learned that they raise turtles to eat the mosquito larvae while they are growing in the water. It was really interesting being able to see the tiny little larva under a microscope. We then concluded our trip with a few closing statements, and it was all in all a fantastic way to start our journey with the Global Health Fellows.
2018 Global Health Fellows’ Retreat: Friday Morning Blog Post by Andrew Thetford
Our first Global Health Retreat of 2018 began at 8:15 sharp, when the ‘18, ‘19, ‘20, and brand new ‘21 cohorts met on the upper floor of our new Massey Leadership Center with Mrs Goodson, Mrs. Hall, Ms. Nasimiyu, and our mentor and friend Dr. Bob Malkin, a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. We met Dr. Malkin in the summer of 2016 during our retreat to Duke and UNC, and Dr. Malkin has since proven to be very helpful in designing and helping to shape our intervention in Belize.
Previous to this retreat, the three older cohorts had split up into groups of different interests in an effort to cover all the different fields of aid that our projects in Belize could tackle. Groups included community enrichment, female empowerment, health and well-being, hygiene and sanitation, and technology. Each group had already presented to all of the older fellows, but the new ‘21s and Dr Malkin had yet to hear from any of the groups. For the older fellows, these presentations served to hone their public speaking and presenting skills and to receive feedback and constructive criticism from a public health expert; for the ‘21s, the presentations served to show them what the GHFs have been up to over the past few months and to introduce them to what the program is all about; and for Dr. Malkin, the presentations also served to enlighten him on the goings-on of the program. After each presentation, there was a brief Q&A session for each group, with Dr. Malkin providing very thoughtful insight with positive feedback and things to consider for each presentation/theoretical intervention.
Dr. Malkin had to be back at Duke by around 2 in the afternoon, so our time with him was brief but filled with lots of learning and important takeaways. After this rather intensive educational session, we played an icebreaker that involved gathering in a circle and passing around a beach ball that had questions written all over it. Questions ranged from “What’s your favorite toothpaste flavor?” to “What’s your favorite karaoke song?” and really helped to diffuse any discomfort that might have been present, especially in the ‘21s. To cap off the GHF morning, we split into groups: the ‘20s led the ‘21s in a discussion of the book Better by Atul Gawande- a classic introductory read for new GHFs, and the ‘18s and ‘19s discussed Dr. Malkin’s feedback and plans for the future until lunchtime.
Better Discussion Groups by Leila Jamali (2021)
After reviewing the presentations with Dr. Malkin, the sophomores and freshmen separated from the juniors and seniors. In the lobby of the Massey Leadership Center, we discussed the book Better by Atul Gawande, a surgeon who narrated about his experiences in the field. The sophomores and freshmen split up, each group with 2 freshmen and 2 sophomores, who had split up by section of the book. The sophomores asked us debatable questions about their specific sections and quotes, and our general thoughts on certain topics relating to the events in the book. When I was in Courtney and Ells’s group, we talked about the different ways doctors performed surgery during a war setting and how they were able to accomplish it as cleanly as possible. This topic really interested me, especially reading about the amazing things doctors are able to do in the field. The freshmen rotated through 2 of the 3 groups. We only did this for about 10-20 minutes before we had to go to lunch and continue the rest of our first retreat as Global Health Fellows.
Batten Civic and Global Leadership Program Focuses on Sea Level Rise by Ingrid Benkovitz (2019)
After enjoying lunch with one another, we ventured back to the Massey Leadership Center for the afternoon activities relating to sea level rise. It began with Mr. Nelson’s remarks and introduction to a short documentary, On the Chesapeake, about the effects that climate change and sea level rise has had on coastal areas off the Chesapeake Bay. The film had not only beautiful pictures and videos of our bay, but was also filled with shocking and often upsetting facts and statistics of what the future of our society could look like without change.
We then broke up into small discussion groups of about 10 students from all different grades and Fellows groups. We discussed a variety of articles that we had read, each outlining a different implication of sea level rise. We came back together and each group shared their major takeaways in front of all of the Fellows, directors, and a panel of adults with experience working to change the state of our environment and bay. My group, for example, explained the difference between a proactive and a reactive culture, as well as lifestyle changes we saw necessary. Others mentioned the extensive consequences of sea level rise or the difficulty of successfully implementing projects in places where many people do not believe in the cause. Each student was more enlightening than the last and the points brought up were thought-provoking, leaving me questioning and ready to learn more.
The panel that was present consisted of men and women from a wide range of occupations, from government workers to engineers, and they were eager to answer questions and help us understand what we can do to make change and inspire others to make change. Mr. Wetmore concluded the day with some closing remarks as we look forward to more work tomorrow!
Reflections from Julia Duarte (GHF 2020)
On our last day, our 7:30 alarms rang in our ears as we woke up and proceeded to prepare for the day ahead. All of the Fellows met in the lobby at 8:15 and we headed to pick up our breakfast. Bringing our usual bagels and coffee with us on the bus, we set out to Emory University. Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Goodson decided to challenge us with an early morning scavenger hunt around Emory. Each cohort was a team and was given a list of buildings and statues and a map. We then proceeded to search for and take pictures of different structures in the humid climate. After walking around the campus for thirty minutes, the three groups met up at the bus to go to our next stop.
Our next destination was the David J. Spencer CDC Museum. We spent over an hour and a half viewing many exhibits throughout the three floors of the museum. Each exhibit was filled with the many accomplishments of the CDC, along with the vast accounts and facts of many diseases and illnesses. The first exhibit covered Ebola, which comprised of fascinating images and original artifacts from 2014. As we headed down the stairs, we read from walls of information, including of the story of AIDS, a little on Guinea Worm disease, and the obesity problem in the United States. In a separate room downstairs, we took turns putting on BSL 4 suits and experiencing the load of clothing that health workers had to wear during the Ebola epidemic. Afterwards, we met upstairs and drove to Victory Sandwich Bar for lunch.
After a tasty lunch, we traveled to the Carter Center in Atlanta, which, sponsored by President Jimmy Carter, works to solve diplomatic issues peacefully as well as working to help impoverished communities worldwide. We had the pleasure of speaking with Angelia Sanders, a Hampton Roads native and former Peace Corps worker, who talked with us mainly about the Carter Center’s effort to make guinea worm disease the second disease ever eradicated after smallpox. She described her experience living in a South Sudanese village helping the community eradicate guinea worm. We all found her talk extremely interesting and engaging, giving us insight into the lives of both those affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) like Guinea worm and also of those trying to eliminate them.
After our interesting talk with Mrs. Sanders, we were given an hour to look around the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum. Many of us enjoyed the Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease exhibit. It elaborated on the process of eradicating diseases, such as Guinea worm disease, polio, and river blindness. Other parts of the museum included the life of Jimmy Carter, his biggest accomplishments in office, and even a replica of the Oval Office in the White House. Then, we headed back to the hotel and had a few hours to relax and pack our bags for our travelling day tomorrow.
After a delicious dinner at a local Tex-Mex restaurant, we all gathered to discuss the central mission of the Global Health Fellows Program and modify our guiding mission statement. This gave us the opportunity to set our goals for the upcoming year and those that follow. We also discussed ways to keep each other accountable for staying up to date on pressing global health issues and news. We all feel confident and inspired heading into the coming year: ready to accomplish our goals and put our thoughts into action.
Reflections on the morning from Laura Read (GHF 2020).
On Wednesday, it was yet another bright and early start for the fellows, having to be ready in the hotel lobby by 7:00am! We returned to the bagel café and Starbucks for breakfast and were ready to begin the day, boarding the van at 7:15.
Emory University‘s Think Big Symposium: Applying Collaborative Big Data Science for Predictive Health was being held at 8:00am, which we were almost late to thanks to a spot of busy Atlanta traffic. After entering the Rollins School of Public Health, we attended the key note address by Dr. Gary Gibbons, MD. He is the director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institute of Health. The NHLBI provides global leadership for research, training, and education to promote the prevention of heart, lung, and blood disorders. He also graduated magma cum laude from Harvard Medical School.
The principle topic during the address was the collaboration between numerical data and how to use that for predictive health and medicine. We learned how healthy people are being studied to foreshadow who will become sick in the future. The NHBLI is aiming to train the new generation of leaders in science and improve the health of the nation. We ended up staying for the first speaker of the panel, Arshed Quyyumi, who spoke about cardiovascular health. He linked healthy people’s data to predict if they would develop heart disease. Surprisingly, factors like marriage and place of living had significant impact of the outcomes.
“After a long few hours of lectures, we decided you might want some caffeine… we’re going to the World of Coca Cola!” were the words of Mrs. Hall, a welcome surprise! We drove over to the Coke Museum, where we took photos outside near a giant bottle cap. Albeit being mostly for fun, we linked the trip to global health because Coca Cola is a significant contributor to the diabetes and obesity epidemic. We thought about the controversy if whether or not it’s Cola’s responsibility, or not because they’re a business. We were greeted by a can of coke and smile, followed by a room full of nostalgic Coca Cola memorabilia. Then we were led to the main area, where we could walk around and learn about the company’s history, see how classic Coke is made, and explore Coca Cola in pop culture. Perhaps the most exciting attraction of all was the tasting room, where there were over a hundred flavors from around the world to choose from! There were a few good ones, but many of them tasted funny (see: the neon green soft drink from Djibouti). Our personal favorite was a drink from Italy called Beverly. It was reminiscent of mouthwash and liquid cough medicine. There was a lot of laughing and it was so much fun to hang out with everyone! After a quick round through the gift shop at the end, we headed off to the Mellow Mushroom for a delicious lunch.
Reflections on the second half of the day from Connor Tiffany (GHF 2020).
In the afternoon, we ventured away from the city, and traveled to Yerkes National Primate Research center, a facility dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve human health and wellbeing. With its status as a national personnel records centers, Yerkes is home to more than 3,000 non human primates, including squirrel monkeys, chimpanzees, and sooty mangabeys. On our tour, we spoke with Julie Moran, an assistant field station operation manager, who discussed the animals behavioral patterns, the various forms of research in which they are involved, and how that research is used to better the lives of humans. Despite the rain, we were fortunate to encounter multiple animals, learning of their vibrant personalities and different vocalizations, like blowing raspberries, a chimpanzee’s call which symbolizes trust and affection. I was especially grateful to meet Winston, a chimpanzee who was incredibly amicable, even with his status as the alpha male of his community. In correlation with our summer reading book Spillover, our experience at Yerkes helped us to better understand the phenomenon of zoonosis, an animal infection transmissible to humans, and how our involvement with animals can lead to the deaths of thousands.
Later in the evening, we made plans to dine at the vintage Rí Rá Irish Pub to replenish from our long day of focus. As we walked through the door and waited to be seated, we were surprised to see a cluster of Hollywood cameras and spotlights illuminating the interior of the historic restaurant. After eating dinner and learning that the fellows could possibly be featured on an episode of “Date Night Live”, everyone gathered around a hotel television and watched the cringe worthy episode unfold. To end the day, the senior fellows lead a productive discussion about “Spillover” and how it applies to the future of disease control.
Each summer, the GHF program kicks off the year with a retreat in August. This summer, Fellows traveled to Atlanta, Georgia. Reflections on the first full day of programming below are offered by Ingrid Benkovitz, GHF Class of 2019.
As we struggled to wake up after Tuesday’s long day of travel, the 2018-2020 Global Health Fellows met for breakfast promptly at 8:00. The idea of bagels and coffee helped the morning run smoothly. With full and happy stomachs, we ventured via Norfolk Academy bus to our first outing of the day: the CNN headquarters.
This stop included both a “behind the scenes” studio tour and a personal Q&A with Ben Tinker, Supervising Producer for CNN Health’s Emmy-winning Sanjay Gupta. The studio tour, although an hour long, felt more like 5 minutes long, for each pit-stop was more striking than the last. We were able to see control panels, green screens, and even a live broadcast during filming. While we assumed nothing could top what we had already seen, we were proven wrong. Shorty thereafter, we walked to a small conference room, in which we had the question and answer session with Mr. Tinker.
Mr. Tinker is simply incredible. His selfless, time-consuming work world-wide is inspiring, his stories fascinating. He briefed us on the three types of news (breaking news, pitches, and series) and explained his process in the tough decision-making of what is “newsworthy”. Having had personal experience in Haiti, including producing a segment there this summer, entitled “Champions for Change”, Tinker understood our work completely, saying, “I always try to leave a place better than I found it… It truly is just the right thing to do”. He continued on to tell us his favorite parts of what he considers the most rewarding job at CNN; to go places and to share peoples’ stories. He then left us with one note: “The stories are where you least expect them… It never ceases to amaze me where the stories come from, whether it be an interviewee’s assistant or the person next to you on an airplane”. Tinker’s words of wisdom are not only relevant to us, but impactful beyond words.
Following the talk, we headed to a quick lunch in the CNN courtyard in preparation for the second half our day at Emory University Hospital Midtown. We were given a tour of some of the hospital’s most distinct facilities, such as the pharmacy, the new ICU, and the Interventional Radiology Center. The Interventional Radiologists (IRs) showed us some of the special stents and catheters that they use, even allowing us to hold and expand them ourselves. Luckily for us, Dr. Newsome, Olivia’s mom, is an IR at the hospital and created an IR innovation lab for us, where we were split into groups and tasked to plan and build a solution to a prompt relating to hospital safety or efficiency. After an hour of fun, yet challenging work, we presented to the IRs in a “Shark Tank” fashion, receiving feedback for our ideas and creations. We had a short Q&A with the IRs at the end, sparking a thought-provoking conversation about the rise of robots within medicine and whether we should expect some sort of robot takeover. Dr. Newsome dissolved our fears confidently and beautifully, as she remarked, “Try as I might, but you can’t teach a machine to do what I do because you can’t teach a machine to care”. She shared with us that our strongest asset is our ability to care. We are thankful to have such a wonderful, successful, and passionate role model in our lives and cannot thank her enough for the opportunities she has provided for us in Atlanta.
With the afternoon’s adventures coming to a close, we headed back to the hotel for some relaxation time and time to get ready for dinner at BurgerFi. After dinner, we spent the evening reviewing data from the ‘18s and ‘20s trip to Belize in June and getting excited for tomorrow!
While our GHF ’18s and ’20s have been in Belize this week, a few of our ’19s have been participating on the Leadership Lab alongside all other Center for Civic and Global Leadership Fellows in their class (Chesapeake Bay Fellows, Literacy Fellows, International Relations Fellows, Engineering/Design/Innovation Fellows). Three week-long Leadership Labs are happening throughout the course of the summer. Half of the week is spent in the wilderness at Calleva Farm and the last few days are spent in Washington, DC. Here is a picture of the first CCGL ’19s Leadership Lab group after their solo night in the woods:
Written by Laura Read (GHF ’20) to recount Thursday, June 16, 2017:
It was yet another hot, sunny day in San Antonio. We woke up early to a delicious breakfast of toast, peanut butter, and coffee from our host family mother, Miss Sandra. At 8:00, we headed off to the community center for an activity packed day! It was going to be out last day of home care visits.
The three groups split off again to cover the villages. Gabi, Connor, Claire, Mrs. Goodson, Hector, and I (the Tortilla group strikes again) took the city bus to Cristo Rey, a village about 25 minutes away from San Antonio. We had a interesting conversation with a family about the Belizean education system, which was awesome to hear. The woman we talked to had a lot of insight and a strong opinion on how it should be changed to better the community. Gabi and I got a lot of practice taking glucose levels! I made an effort to practice more of the Spanish I’ve been learning. It’s wildly cool to see how I’m able to understand the conversations the families are having between themselves and Hector. Then, a few hours and some good laughs later, we headed over to the bus stop to travel back to our town.
After our last few visits, we headed back to our home stays for some rest and lunch. Olivia and I had a kind of chicken wrapped in fry jacks and it was incredible. Then I played with Miss Sandra’s adorable son, Norbert, who is five. He’s been so cute this week and I’m going to miss him when we leave!
At 2:00, we all met up in the community center for a tech session. We covered the different uses of ser and estar, listening comprehension, and the pretérito (past) tense in the advanced Spanish group with Hector. I’m learning to think quickly through my Spanish. After our lesson, the groups switched and Kristen (who is awesome and living in my home stay with me) taught us all about maternal health. We learned about maternal mortality, teen pregnancy, family planning, the stages of pregnancy, and maternal health in Belize. It was a really informative presentation!
Then we headed home for a quick dinner. At 7:30 we were to head over to Sahib, Lawson, and Hector’s home stay for a bonfire and some bonding time. We roasted pineapple and marshmallows! We all hung out in the hammocks for ages. It was a great time. Sahib made us all die laughing, as usual. Then we played Mafia in the back of the pick up truck. It was a lot of fun despite Hunt personally turned Johan against me (cough, cough).
Unfortunately, our last round was cut short when the clock struck 9:00, and we all had to say goodbye for the night. We took a few pictures and walked back to our home stays.
I can’t believe tomorrow is our last full day here. I’m going to miss it so much! (especially Norbert.)
Written by Hunt Stockwell (GHF ’18) and Ells Boone (GHF ’20) to recount Wednesday, June 14, 2017:
After yet another delicious breakfast set up by our host mother, we all met up at the San Antonio Pentecostal School to teach the lessons on hand washing and toothbrushing we had created in the previous days. There were four separate groups: two taught the younger kids (kindergarten through third grade), while two had slightly more advanced lessons for the older kids (fourth through sixth grades). As a member of the group that taught toothbrushing to the younger kids, I quickly learned how difficult it was to capture the full attention of six through nine year olds, especially in a classroom setting. Our lessons went extremely well nonetheless, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact they already kept up good toothbrushing habits; they claimed to brush their teeth three times a day for three minutes each, but I’m not sure if I fully believe that. We ended our sessions with a game of “tooth tooth cavity,” an educational alternative to “duck duck goose”. After we finished our teaching, we joined the kids for recess. We played a myriad of games with the children, including soccer and tag, in which either I was it, or everyone else was. We left to return to our homestays for lunch exhausted but ecstatic from our time at the school. – Hunt, GHF ’18
Having just woken up from our post-lunch siesta, we headed to the community center for another round of home visits. My group went to Cristo Rey, a 30 minute bus ride from San Antonio. In Cristo Rey, my group and I visited houses located near the school. The first house had just one man who graciously let us take his vitals. The 2 other homes we visited were rather uneventful but we collected important data for our needs assessment. A quick bus ride back to San Antonio, a visit to the bakery and Marleney’s store, and we completed the afternoon. – Ells, GHF ’20
After we completed our home visits, everyone reconvened in the community center to discuss our plans to prepare a presentation for another school near San Antonio. We split into on two groups, one group discussing hygiene and nutrition, and the other group discussing sexual education. When we completed these discussions, we walked back to the school and played a pick up soccer game with some very skilled locals. Despite our best efforts, our team lost in the last two minutes by two, unfortunate goals.