Author Archives: sgoodson

School Visits and visiting the Market (Erin Clayton ’21)

Happy Thursday! We are continuing to enjoy our week in Belize. This morning, my home stay with Ms. Nasimiyu, Anaiya, Laura, and Julianne was fed a delicious breakfast by Miss Antonia and her husband. They prepared an egg and vegetable scramble, fried jacks, and watermelon for us. After a short walk to the school, we met the rest of the group and excitedly watched as the kids we were about to teach arrived to school. Connor, Ells, Julianne, Leila, Courtney, and Mr. McMahon headed off to the computer lab to teach the 6th graders basic computer skills. Anaiya, Laura, Julia, and Abby met the 4th and 5th grade girls again to teach day 2 of their Women’s Empowerment Curriculum. Maddie, Ell, Sahib, Avery, Marianna, and I taught our basic health and nutrition class to the youngest (and cutest, I might add!) kids at the school. Our class covered the food groups, hydration, teeth brushing, hand washing, and exercise. The kids all seemed to have a really fun time with their coloring books about brushing your teeth and outside games of freeze dance, duck-duck-goose, Simon Says, and races.

My home stay then headed home for lunch. We were fed tamales, chips and salsa, and oreos as a treat. Everything Miss Antonia and her family has prepared is so delicious; I am really going to miss them. Ms. Nasimiyu, Anaiya, and myself spent the after lunch rest period napping in the hammocks.

We walked to the school again and met our vans for the afternoon excursion to San Ignacio. Here we spent a few hours walking through tbe local market and streets buying souvenirs for family and friends back home and enjoying each others company. The afternoon was completed an an ice cream treat from “The Ice Cream Shoppe” in downtown San Ignacio. The cold dessert and air conditioning was a much welcomed treat. After riding back to San Antonio, the exercise group held a class for the kids in the town. Everyone joined in and it became a massive dance party with all of us and about 30 kids from the town. We capped off the night with project reviews, planning for tomorrow’s health fair, roses and thorns, and physical and emotional check ins. My home stay headed home again to a dinner of fajita chicken, rice, and salad. After a few rounds of the card game “capitalism” we all headed to bed. All in all it was a great day!

Wednesday at the United Pentecostal School (Maddie Brooks ’21)

What a fun day we had today! Marianna, Courtney, Mrs. Hallberg, Carly, Jasmine and I started our day off with a breakfast of watermelon, mango, and mac and cheese from Miss MIriam. We changed into our scrubs and took the long walk to the community center at 8 AM. We met to walk over to the United Pentecostal School where we began our projects with the kids. Ella, Marianna, and I (the exercise group!) teamed up with Sahib, Erin and Avery (the nutrition group)to teach standard 1, 2 and 3 classes (like 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders) about healthy living. Each class was an hour so for the first half, Erin and Sahib taught their nutrition portion with a great poster and coloring books! The students were super interactive which made for great sessions. For the second half, Ella and I led a fun “exercise” class for the kids./ We went outside to play music and play a game called freeze dance which they enjoyed. After, we did some relay races (sometimes boys vs girls) which the kids really got into! For our standard 3 class, it was storming and raining too much to play outside so we did a few exercises like stretching, running in place, and jumping jacks as well as fun games about eating healthy.

Once the rain stopped, we had to say goodbye to the kids for the day and go back to our home stays for lunch. Miss Miriam made some very good spaghetti and when we found out the rain from the storm had soaked our beds, Miss Miriam replaced everything!! She is so kind and I am so grateful to be welcomed into her home.

After a nice 2-hour break, we returned to the community center at 3 PM. We reflected on the morning briefly and go started on changes/improvements to our projects. Ella, Mariana, and I began a new routine for our exercise class at 4 PM. Because kids came the last time on Monday, we made our dance more fun with easier moves but still a good workout. It was a huge success and about 10-12 girls came to the stage right next to the community center where we exercised. We did it a few times and danced to the music and even a few more girls came. Afterward, we handed out the water bottles, pedometers and explained the book to track everything. One little boy, Carlito, filled up his water bottle a few times and tracked it in the book and one of the girls, Alita, did some exercises from the book in her front yard! After some play time, we said goodbye and we headed to the Pentecostal School to play a fun game of soccer against each other. It got a little competitive as Ms. Nasimiyu slide tackled me and some balls hit some faces – but it was very fun!!!

We had our reflection with roses and thorns and emotional and physical check-ins then we went back to our home stays for dinner. MIss Miriam made us rice and beans, BBQ chicken, and fried plantains and itw as amazing! We went back to the restaurant at 8:30 PM to play some cards and then returned home later to sleep. Good night from Belize!

Tuesday in Belize (Anaiya Roberts ’21)

Where do I even begin? Today, was filled of laughter, learning, and bonding with one another. The day began with our last day of home visits, where each fellow grew more comfortable than the day before. My group even ended the day with German Menonite ice cream – what a great way to end the day! Next we were treated to a wonderful lunch from Miss Antonia. We also had the pleasure of spending time with some other GHFs. After reviewing our projects, I think came everyone’s favorite part of the day – going to James’ Farm. There we were able to see James’ family farm where we drank fresh coconut water and freshly roasted coffee! We enjoyed the coffee with coconut macaroons – it was like a little coffee shop! I felt like we were bonding and getting to know each other better which was the best feeling.

Finally, we had game night after dinner. The game of the night was MAFIA. In the first round, I was killed. Mr. McMahon was our amazing narrator and created a fun atmosphere. All in all, it was a great day and night!

Sunday Blog – Day 2 (Courtney Kilduff ’20)

The GHFs first full day in Belize proved to be very eventful. Before jumping into our project work with GPSA, we took the day to experience Belizean culture and history. Trip number one of the day was to ancient Mayan ruins – one of the most historically rich parts of all Belize. The GHFs attended a tour to learn about Xunantunich, the Mayan city of ruin which translate to “Maiden of the Rock” and even were fortunate enough to hike up the site’s greatest attraction: the temple of El Castillo. After this, our next stop was a traditional Belizean chocolate making factory to learn the history of chocolate making in Belize, make some of our own, and taste some of the country’s most popular products – like dark chocolate and chocolate wine. To end the day, the GHFs gathered to practice some of the medical skills we will be exercising throughout the week like taking blood pressure, blood glucose, pulse, respiration, and more. We look forward to putting these skills into action this week!

Travel Day to Belize (Erin Clayton ’21)

Today, we began our trip to Belize bright and early at 4:30 AM! After two flights and some airport card games, we arrived in Belize safely with the help of our leaders Connor and Ells. We landed around 1 PM Belizean time and met our coordinators Carly and Peyton from GPSA. We packed up our gear in two vans and headed out.

During the 45 minutes card ride, I got to bond with the ’22s. We all arrived at Cheers for lunch. I personally ordered a quesadilla for lunch and it was delicious. During lunch, I was able to learn more about Carly and Peyton. After lunch, we headed back into the vans for the long ride to San Antonio. Unfortunately, our van broke down on the way, but we were able to reorganize ourselves. We split into two groups, and my group headed to San Antonio in the working van. The, I finally was able to meet Miss Juanita who was generous enough to left me, Avery, and Peyton stay with her. Once everyone settled into their home stays, we gathered at the community center where we reunited with Andrea.

We went over an orientation and were given an overall schedule for the week. Then, we did our roses and thorns of the day and soon returned to our homes for the week. Avery, Peyton, and I enjoyed Miss Juanita’s amazing food for dinner and then we began to prepare for the adventurous week ahead.

Museum of Natural History’s Outbreak Exhibit!

GHFs visit the Museum of Natural History by Madeleine Munn (2019)

GHF 20s at the Outbreak exhibition!

On Saturday we visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History before hitting the road toward home. There was a fascinating exhibit called “Outbreak” about infectious disease and the way it is spread. Plus, we visited the rest of the museum- and some of us immersed ourselves in butterflies! What a perfect way to end a fabulous retreat. We had a long, hot bus ride back, just reaching home before it started storming. We are so grateful to all of the organizations we met with in DC this week- they are doing the work we are inspired by. This retreat was a perfect way to keep us moving forward into the school year. Here’s to a new season of life and learning!



GHFs Visit JHU’s Bloomberg School of Public Health

Friday’s Visit to Baltimore by Erin Clayton (2021)

Connor (’20), Ells (’20) and Ingrid (’19) stop to pose on their tour at JHU’s Bloomberg School.

On our 3rd day in DC, we boarded the bus for Baltimore at the early time of 7:15, already filled up on breakfast from our hotel. Everyone was tired after the long day of Thursday, but our excitement about visiting Johns Hopkins overpowered our lack of sleep. After a short 1 hour bus ride to Baltimore, we arrived to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and were met by Taryn Mallonee and Lauren Black, the director and assistant director of recruitment, communications, and events for the school of Public Health. After they led us to our conference room, Ms. Mallonee and Miss Black asked us about our own interests in Global Health and our favorite experiences in the field. I thought this was unique and something that we had rarely been asked on the trip. We then had the opportunity to learn all about how the Bloomberg School operates and about the student body. One of the aspects of the conversation I found particularly interesting was how of the 10 divisions of the school, one of them was Mental Health. I thought it was interesting how Johns Hopkins is the only school of Public Health that has a specific Mental Health program. The admissions experts also informed us on the great extent of Johns Hopkins research. After our first session, Ms. Mallonee and Ms. Black took us on a tour of the Bloomberg school building and also John’s Hopkins Hospital. We saw everything from labs, classrooms, and lecture halls to the gym, coffee shop, and study rooms. The facilities were beautiful and it was a great opportunity to see the work in action.

GHFs learn about the research of JHU Public Health students around the globe.

After the tour and a quick break, we had a Q&A with faculty member Dr. Donna Strobino, a professor and vice chair of Education in the department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health. Professor Strobino was very knowledgeable about topics especially related to our work on Women’s Empowerment in Belize. She also reassured everyone that is ok to not know what you want do, and even made the fellows all laugh saying she did not know what she wanted to do. After Professor Strobino’s educational discussion, we had a second Q&A with current doctoral student Justin Jacob, who is a part of the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Justin’s presentation described his unusual undergraduate path which involved multiple major changes, work at the Center for Disease Control that was unrelated to his studies, and ultimately ending up back at Johns Hopkins doing what Justin believed he was meant to do. This discussion continued our topic of how you do not really know where you will end up until you get there.

Madeleine Munn (GHF 19) asks Dayna Myers questions about Global Health NOW

After our morning at the University, we had a lunch break in the Hospital cafeteria followed by a break time, where my cohort went to  a coffee shop to discuss the morning’s events! We returned back to the Bloomberg School of Public Health and then had a fascinating meeting with Dayna Kerecman Myers from Global Health Now. Global Health Now is an online publication and subscription service where the most important Global Health related articles of the day are published or republished from other publications. All Global Health fellows subscribe to the website and so it was an amazing experience to hear about the behind the scenes aspect of the website. I was impressed how Ms.Myers wakes up at 5am every morning in order to publish the days newsletter. After meeting with Global Health Now, we loaded onto the bus to drive back into DC and to our surprise visit to the World Bank Group’s Visitor Center. We enjoyed a in depth and detailed tour by a volunteer tour guide, which outlined the World Bank’s efforts since its founding. We finished off our last night with a delicious dinner at Bar Louie and some ice cream from Haagen Daz.

GHFs Visit Chemonics, the State Department, CARE, and Mary’s Center

GHFs Visit Chemonics, the State Department, CARE, and Mary’s Center by Julia Duarte (2020)

On Thursday, I woke up to Madeleine calling my name at 7:00. After a few more minutes of comfortable sleep, I forced myself to get out of bed and I proceeded to get ready.  Thoughts reminiscing about the inspirational speakers of the previous day and preparing myself for the full day ahead ran through my head as I brushed my teeth. Once we were all ready, Madeleine, Anaiya, and I grabbed our bags and went downstairs for breakfast.

GHF 19s present about our program and work in Belize to a panel at Chemonics.

After we were all fueled by waffles and coffee, we jogged on to the bus at 8:10, a time which was a little earlier than planned in the event that we met some D.C. traffic. Our cautiousness was awarded by an extra 20 minute break outside in the nice weather. When 8:50 came around, we crossed the street to the large building that houses the private international development company, Chemonics. We made our way up an elevator to a sunlit room where we would be both presenting to a panel of experts (this was the only company to ask us to do this)  and listening to the presentation of the panelists. I grabbed a coffee (yes, for the second time) and sat down with my cohort at a table and directed my attention to the ‘19s, who would be presenting our mission and previous work in the field. Watching the seniors carry themselves with poise and listening to them speak with clarity and a sort of passion made me only hope that someday I could be as confident of a public speaker as they were. I was definitely proud to have them representing this program. Once the presentation concluded, I saw the amazed gazes of the three women sitting in front of us. Ms. Doris Youngs, Ms. Ashley Greve, and Ms. Megan Nelson directed some questions our way, which excited me to see three experts interested in the work of a handful of teenagers.

Panel of experts at Chemonics!

After they talked about their own work within and outside of Chemonics, we began to slowly pour out our thoughts and questions to them. With each question, the three spoke with more and more passion and displayed their knowledge and experience in front of us. I was so overwhelmed (in a good way) by so much information that two hours flew by too quickly. We said hasty goodbyes and headed off to lunch. I ate a filling salad at Panera while getting to know Leila, a newbie to this program.

Ambassador Birx welcomes GHFs to the State Department

At 12:50, we all convened in front of the US Department of State building. Andrew and Kara, the leaders of the day, briefed us on PEPFAR right before two men came outside to escort us through security and to the elevators. At the conference room, we got the chance to meet and speak to Ambassador Birx, Mr. Jason Bowman, Ms. Neeta Bhandari and others. We learned about the United States’ involvement in the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the application of maps and geographic information to outbreaks and disease, public-private partnerships, and more. An hour and a half did not offer sufficient time for us to hear what the experts had to say and to ask questions. At the end, we thanked everyone who spoke to us, were ushered downstairs, and quickly hopped on the bus so that we could be taken to our next stop. At 3:00 we were dropped off at CARE, an international humanitarian organization. We met with Ms. Kristin Wells, who does advocacy work at CARE (fun fact: the first care packages were created here). CARE has certainly evolved from physical care packages to “conceptual care packages”, as Ms. Wells stated. Now, they are offering emergency relief aid, women’s rights advocacy, and long-term development programs around the world.

Next, we arrived at the community health center, Mary’s Center (which was founded in a basement!) and we listened to Ms. Bethlehem Muleta and Ms. Selene Tituana speak about the mission of Mary’s Center and community health education research that has been conducted. After we asked a few questions, we split into two groups and we were taken on a tour around the facility. Seeing many components, such has the medical sector, dental sector, and education facilities, really opened my eyes to all the good that they offer to people of all ages and backgrounds. We left the building (not before taking a few pictures.. Which reminds me, please check out our twitter! @NA_Fellows) and made our regular dash onto the bus. Before we knew it, we were at the hotel and running into the lobby. We were given ample time to change out from our formal outfits and relax before heading downstairs to head to Shake Shack (shoutout to Ells’ persistent pleas for burgers). At Shake Shack, I sat with Courtney, Connor, and Sahib and laughed at nothing and everything. That, combined with a good burger and shake, was a perfect conclusion to a perfect day.

GHFs pose in front of Mary’s Center.

I’m not done yet (so sorry)!! In the evening we all met up in Ms. Nas’ room, listened to each others’ roses and thorns, got a spiel of tomorrow’s schedule from Madeleine, and read Global Health Now! articles to prepare for tomorrow’s visit.  

At night, we were in Connor and Sahib’s room after the meeting and talked about what you expect teenagers to talk about: gossip, school, vines, etc. But looking around at the different but the most familiar faces and knowing that we are all connected by a common interest, that we all experienced the once unimaginable, and that we were in for more adventures, jokes, teasing, learning, thinking, laughs, and growing up with one another, I felt an overwhelming feeling of joy that this experience permanently intertwines us into each others’ lives. I reflected on this in my bedroom and before I knew it, my 6:00 alarm was blaring into my ear signalling the start of a new, exciting day.

GHFs arrive to Washington DC

GHF Retreat Blog Post 8/9/18 by Andrew Thetford (2019)

Our first day of the DC portion of our retreat was an early one.  We met at the Arch at 6:30, bags in hand, and boarded the biggest NA bus to get on the road to our first stop at Cycle Technologies.  We all made sure to be on time, because our driver, Roy, said that 6:45 was the latest time we could depart and still be on time. However, about 20 minutes into our drive, we experienced some technical difficulties with the bus and had to turn around and go back to NA to get on another, much smaller bus. It all worked out in the end, as we made it to Cycle Technologies with a couple minutes to spare due to an unnatural lack of traffic for a weekday morning in the nation’s capital.  

Ann Mullen (Cycle Technologies) presents about their product development process.

Cycle Technologies was a very good start to the trip.  They’re a corporation that designs products ranging from necklaces to apps that help women in both the US and especially countries in levels 1-3 to keep track of their menstrual cycle to avoid unwanted pregnancies as well as to facilitate family planning.  We had a great dialogue with two representatives from Cycle Technologies, and came away very impressed with their innovation and energized for our next stop, Conservation International.

Conservation International is an organization that works with foreign governments, companies, and locals in biodiversity hotspots to conserve our world and essentially our ability to live.  Our meeting with their representative, Ms. Janet Edmond, involved a general presentation about Conservation International’s work and a Q&A session regarding Ms. Edmond’s story and the interests of our group.

GHFs pose with Robert Clay, VP of Global Health at Save the Children.

Our final meeting of the day was with the Save the Children organization, a group that works around the world to improve the child mortality rate, provide children with education, and help them escape conflict and violence.  This was one of the highlights of the entire trip for some of the GHFs, and we left all of our meetings wishing we had more time.

After a rough drive in DC traffic, we made it to the hotel, unpacked, and headed out for our first dinner of the trip at some nearby restaurants.  We ended the day with a reflection meeting and preparation for the next day of our retreat. Overall, it was an excellent start to our DC/Baltimore trip!

GHFs Back on Campus – Retreat Day 1

Reflections on the First Day by Ray Fitzgerald (2019)

The Global Health Fellows 2018 Summer Retreat began at 9:00 AM on August 7th. The day began with warm greetings around the room, and an icebreaker led by Ingrid. The icebreaker consisted of a homemade volleyball with various questions being passed around the room. It was a great way to get everyone more comfortable talking to each other again after a long summer. Soon after the icebreaker, the 19’s presented the work that was done in Belize this summer to everyone, with an ongoing discussion about how we can improve our ideas and tackle issues we faced while in Belize. Everyone was doing an amazing job of contributing to the conversation on what will be best for the future of our work in Belize.

After a short break, we began a group discussion on the book Factfulness, a book that all the Fellows read this summer that discusses 10 instincts that a majority of people have that distort their view on certain issues that impact people around the globe. Ingrid began the discussion with a few opening questions and discussion points, and then everyone split up into groups of two or three. Each group then travelled from senior to senior to discuss the different chapters. I personally believe that everyone got a lot out of these discussions, and I was very impressed with how intrigued everyone was with this book, and we all hope to keep this discussion going in the future.

The 19’s then led  the group through a practice run of a presentation that they would be giving later in the retreat to Chemonics. This presentation ran through who we are and what we have done in the past as well as our plans for the future. The younger cohorts gave very insightful feedback, with some help from Mrs. Goodson and Mrs. Hall. Soon after the presentation and feedback Andrew did a quick run through of some packing reminders, as well as overview of the week ahead.

Lunch consisted of some amazing food, courtesy of the Munn family! While the 20’s and 21’s ate, the 19’s had a working lunch with Mrs. Livingston to discuss and work on their senior Addendums to supplement their college applications. Once lunch was over, everyone packed up and began the trip to Escape Room for a team building activity. During this activity, everyone split up into their cohorts and were ‘locked’ in a room for an hour and given clues and riddles to solve in order to get out. The 19’s were the only ones to get out in time, but the team work shown by all three cohorts was very impressive. Overall, it was an amazing start to a great 2018 Global Health Fellows Retreat!