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!