Travel Home from Belize – Day 8

Written by Madeleine Munn ’19 to recount Saturday, June 16, 2018:

1 hour and 13 minutes. We will touch down in Norfolk then, and there is no world in which I could capture 8 days in 1 hour and 13 minutes. Douglas Adams said that “to give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” You could not have measured the chance to turn on a light in a young girl’s mind which had never even known it was in the dark. You could not have bought the smile on Ray’s face when he finally met and talked to a Mennonite. You could not have measured or bought the kindness and openness of 97 patients. There’s no buying or measuring or summarizing 8 days of intense experience, thoughtful reflection, and sweet, tender moments- 8 days of sincerity and integrity. It was a bittersweet finale for the seniors, a fresh first for the sophomores, and an exciting adventure for all.

We traveled to towns where people had no teason to open their door to teenage gringos who wanted to measure their glucose levels, blood pressure, and vitals, but they did- without hesitation- and we were lucky to talk with them and to begin to ponder how to continue a relationship with their communities. The point is, we (the USA) have a lot to learn from Belize, its residents, its healthcare system (and its food!!). It is many things but ugly is not one of them. Neither is unfriendly. Every single person we met was equally as welcoming and beautiful as the landscape they inhabited. That says a lot about people. In a lot of ways, we become our surroundings; but also, we choose the final product- we choose unearned gratitude, trustworthy affection, boundless grace. We are shaped by them but they don’t determine us, only we do that.

As I look around me at our tired faces, I feel the fullness of the hearts inside. I feel the heat of last night’s bonfire, the final gathering. I hear the laughter of a group that put an insane amount of work into changing the world, and drank sodas together in the downtime. And I know that no matter how delirious some of us may be after a day of traveling and a week of hard work, and no matter how much we are waiting, on the edge of our seats, for the summer ahead, Belize will always be our rose.

Travel to Belize – Day 7

The last full day, Friday, June 15th, is captured by Ella Davis (2021).

The excitement of the week carried us all the way to our last day in Belize and for some their last day of international GHF travel. Today was filled with work, reflection, and bonding mixed with happy memories and an overwhelming feeling of how much we’ll miss this place. The morning began with the health fair, giving us one last opportunity to interact with our community. There were vitals, blood pressure/blood glucose being taken, vaccines being distributed and babies being measured and weighed. I taught nutritional lessons to the women in the waiting area along with the hand-washing curriculum. The moms were very interactive and it was great to see that what we were teaching  would make a difference within their households. While others were hard at work tending to patients, a few of us kept the kids occupied while their mothers waited. We handed out tooth brushing pamphlets for them to color, sat in a small circle and talked about everything from the colors of the Crayons to their school lives. One little five year old boy and I bonded in particular. I taught him how to use hand sanitizer and showed him all of our germs under the glow light. When it was time for everyone to pack up he ran over to me and gave me one of the best hugs of my life and that was when I truly felt that my job was special. After a fun-filled start to the day, our group decided to stop by the Pentecostal schools cultural day before lunch. Walking in, we were greeted by the kids we had taught just days before. But instead of uniforms, they were dressed in traditional Mennonite, Creole, Indian and American outfits and sold food out of each cultures tent. We played, ate and conversed for a while until we reluctantly headed back. Fortunately, our home stay families greeted us with a fantastic last lunch of the trip! After taking a quick but well deserved nap, we headed to the community center and started reflections. I was given the time to think about every awesome event on this trip, and just to think about the impact that we had on so many people’s lives. As we shared our reflections one by one, I couldn’t help but feel sad. I felt sad that we didn’t have more time to give to the people of these communities, and that we didn’t have more time to just be with each other without the temptations of electronics. Nonetheless, our last experience on our 2018 GHF Belize trip consisted of a bonfire, a few chairs and a lot of laughs. We chowed down on the going away cake for Kirsten (who will be missed greatly) sat around the dimly lit fire, just enjoying each other’s company, and playing a few rounds of Mafia. I’m going to bed thinking of the great memories we will all share in many years to come.

Travel to Belize – Day 6

The June 14th post is written by Maddie Brooks, Class of 2021.

Today was incredible day full of learning, fun activities, and final home visits of the trip.  We began our day at 8:30 AM in the Pentecostal School in San Antonio (after a delicious breakfast of French toast from miss Attalia and her husband) to teach our lessons that we have been working on for a while.  Our book, Lola Has Questions, was finally put to use by the group teaching puberty to the 6th-8th grade girls (Madeleine, Kara, Erin, Ingrid, Anaiya, and me).  We had great success with our lessons!

We split the groups into two and had three of the GHFs in each group teaching about the menstrual cycle, periods, female anatomy, and good hygiene.  We also discussed how it is important for girls to help girls and how would should always feel empowered.  Being able to educate these young women especially about their bodies, what as wonderful opportunity to make them feel strong and put them in a safe environment.  We became familiar with one another after sharing a little bit about ourselves, such as what we want to be when we grow up or what we wished we learned in school and even about our family.  After reading the book together, since ever girl received her own copy, we dove into some explanations using posters and labels within the book.

We finished the book and all our discussions we closed with a final activity of reflection.  We broke up into small groups and went outside of the cafeteria and each girls shared what we learned from the lesson using a crumpled piece of paper as a ball to toss.  I was so impressed and surprised at the responses that were given because they were so detailed and thoughtful.  It was amazing how much information the girls retained and I was very excited about this as it was my rose of the day!  We then went back inside so the girls could write anonymous questions for us to answer which was a great opportunity to make things more private.  We hope to use some of these questions in the future for another book!

While some of the girls were teaching the puberty lesson, Ray, Andrew, Ella, and Michela taught several classes on nutrition and exercise.  In the classroom, they showed the 5 main food groups and MY PLATE before going into an engaging activity where students determined which foods were placed into which food groups.  Then, the students were taken outside to the soccer field/recess area to participate in some physical activity which consisted of a fun and competitive relay race with both boys and girls.  It was so much fun to watch the students run and the GHFs interact with them!

At the same time, Leila and James talked with the principal of the Pentecostal School about what the community and school’s needs are and specifically the school’s computers and their lab.  the two installed a new software program onto several of the school’s computers, which could help the school to start teaching a new computer curriculum.  Some students even came in to test the new software and played games on it which make the GHFs very happy to see that it worked!

After a few more nutrition and exercise lessons, we departed from the Pentecostal School to have a long and relaxed lunch.  We reconvened at 2 PM in the community center to begin our final home visits of the trip which were in San Antonio.  Since there was only one community health worker, one group went at a time to different homes to once again measure blood glucose, blood pressure, and vitals such as temperature, pulse, respiration rate, height, weight, and BMI.  As Ray took blood pressure, or Ingrid and James took blood glucose, or I took vitals with Erin and Ella, we would ask our patients a few questions to get to know them and their community better.  We asked them questions about their family and history of lifestyle which gave us more perspective and clarity.  My group of 6 visited about 3 hours in an hour and a half, which totaled about six people.  Differing from some of the other communities we visited, most of the people in San Antonio could communicate  with us in English – although it was very fun to practice our Spanish with them!

After we finished our home visits, we worked on some of the lesson plans for the clinic on Friday, which consist of stations for vitals, blood glucose, blood pressure, infant measurements, educating young mothers, and activities with some of the kids!  We closed with our daily reflection of roses and thorns, and deltas and positives.  My rose for the day was hearing all of the amazing things that the young girls at the Pentecostal School learned from the puberty lesson and the details of those as well as the anonymous question, which shows how attentive they really were.  It was a very exciting day, although my thorn from the day was seeing some people on the home visit who really needed to see a doctor but were unaware and did not feel the urgency, which was really upsetting.  We want for them to get the proper care they need and deserve, which is a very hard thing to do, but is also the reason that we are here.  Hopefully, we will come back with even more knowledge of how we can help.  Overall, everyone had a fantastic day and we are very sad to see the week is almost gone!  Thank you for reading!

Travel to Belize – Day 5

Ingrid Benovitz (2019) reflects on the GHFs final day of home visits in Belize.

This morning, I woke up to the familiar smell of fried bread and the familiar sounds of the roosters.  After a delicious breakfast, I walked to the community center with Kirsten and Anaiya to meet the rest of the group and head out for another set of home visits.  We finally arrive to Santa Familia and I gave a quick motivational speech to hype everyone up for our final morning of home visits.  As Mr. Wetmore reminded us, starting the week strong was the easy part.  The hard part is keeping up the energy and getting better each day, rather than being complacent.  I think it is safe to say that we settled for nothing less than our absolute best!

My group went to three houses and were able to have many meaningful conversations and moments with the members of the community.  I really pushed myself to speak in Spanish and even Ray, the German speaker, tested out a few new phrases!  i’m just hoping he’ll be able to talk to a German Mennonite by the end of the week!  Anyway, this morning of home visits truly was exceptional – with James and Ella at the helm of the needs assessment.  I got to practice taking blood glucose levels all by myself, which was scary at first, but ended up being the most fulfilling experience.  At the last home, we were all welcomed graciously into the house, where the entire family was interested and engaged in our work.  I felt such gratitude for this family and really hope the best for them.

After a lunch break, we all met back at the community center for the afternoon.  Gabby gave us an informative sessions about mosquito-borne illnesses, which prompted Kara and me to quickly sneak outside to apply more bug spray.  Kirsten then gave a session on sex-ed.  Her statistics were very helpful in putting things in perspective and about consent and healthy relationships.  We then had some time to run through the school lessons we will be teaching tomorrow.  This week has been amazing and I go to bed each night wholly excited for what the next day will bring.  Hasta la vista!

Travel to Belize – Day 4

Tuesday’s update is brought to you one of our new Global Health Fellows – Erin Clayton (2021).

This morning at my home stay with Michela, Kara and Gabby (a GPSA fellow), Miss Dorita made us Johnny cakes.  A Johnny cake is a sweet, dense biscuit that is eaten with jam and jellies or even peanut butter.  After this delicious breakfast, we set out for the community center where our transportation picked us up to take us to Los Tambos.

Los Tambos is located about an hour away from San Antonio, where we are staying.  I saw it as a much more rural community with a prevalent farming lifestyle.  All morning we visited homes to take temperature, pulse, respiration rate, height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, and blood glucose.  Although my group (we split into two teams for this activity) only visited three houses, we were able to connect with the patients we visited

with.  At the last house we visited, the Spanish-speaking members of our group had a long conversation about the struggles Los Tambos experiences.  These were mainly related to money, poor education, and lack of access to medicine.  A lot of my group and myself ended up feeling a bit helpless with the problems the community experiences.  By the end of our morning in Los Tambos, we gained a contact with an influential figure there, Kendrick Hernandez.  We plan on contacting him in the future to see how we can help.

 

 

After a lunch break, we returned to the community center and spent the afternoon there with different lessons.  First, Kirsten taught us about nutrition, malnutrition, and obesity.  Then, Luis taught us some Spanish phrases that will be useful for our home stay visits.  Lastly, Gabby taught us about oral health and even how to make our own toothpaste!  We spent the last hour before dinner working on our projects for our visit to the school Thursday.  I am part of the Women’s Empowerment group and am very excited to teach the girls.

After dinner at our home stay, the whole group met at the Women’s Co-Op for a fun game of trivia.  The topics ranged from infectious diseases to pop culture and my team (unBelizeable) came out as winners!

 

 

Travel to Belize – Day 3

Andrew Thetford (2019) reflects on the GHFs first day of home visits.

The first day of home visits was filled with new experiences and opportunities to learn and develop.  Although we did not have to meet until 8:15 AM, it was an early morning in my household with most of us waking a little before six.  For breakfast we had these delicious fried dough packets, black beans, fresh juice, and some of the best fruit I’ve ever had.  Once we reached Cristo Rey, we split up into our groups and began the home visits.

My group worked well together from the beginning and improved greatly as throughout the morning.  We had a really fluid team dynamic going especially with Kara speaking flawless Spanish coming fresh off her junior year in Spain.  Leaving Cristo Rey, we ran into a bit of a problem when our van got stuck in a ditch!  After a couple of minutes and a lot of pushing, we were able to get going again back on the road to San Antonio.  For lunch my family had an amazing broth with a lot of meat and veggies mixed in.  After a quick nap time, we headed back to the center of town to grab some snacks before our next meeting.  We then listed to a speaker from the Ministry of Health in Belize (Miss Gema) who discussed more about the healthcare system in Belize.

Afterwards, we went to the Women’s Co-Op of San Antonio.  There, we listened to an informative history lesson about cooking and pottery in Mayan times, then actually practiced this by cooking corn tortillas from scratch and making clay bowls.

We finished the day with insightful reflection and discussion about the events of the day.  Finally, we retired back to our home stays where Ray, James, Mr. Wetmore and I were treated to a delicious meal of sandwiches and this incredibly good fruit called soursop.  We all retired fairly early to prepare ourselves for the following day.

Travel to Belize – Day 2

James Hood (2019) shares the events from Sunday, June 10th in Belize with Global Public Service Academy.

Our first full day in Belize was a good one.  Greeted by a plethora of sounds from roosters to cars to dogs barking, we awoke to a delicious breakfast and cool temperatures.  We soon departed for the Mayan ruin of Xunantunich located near the border between Belize and Guatemala.  Thanks to the extensive knowledge and wisdom of James, our tour guide and bus driver who is also a respected figure in the community, we totally immersed ourselves in the awe-inspiring and beautiful ruins.  We saw the ancient Mayan ball courts, bedrooms of nobles, and the sites of human sacrifice and other aspects of the ruins.  After experiencing Xunantunich, we returned to the Belizean festivities celebrating their Mayan heritage on a holiday fortunately coinciding with our visit.  We watched the conclusion of an arduous 20-mile bike race, and intense Mayan ball game, and a greased pig chase while a few of us chowed down on local dishes in nearby tents.  In preparation of the work ahead of us, we then refined our skills needed for tomorrow’s home visits to measure health indicators such as BMI, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.  We concluded the day by eating a tasty meal generously provided by our host mother, Ms. Selma, and went to bed early in anticipation of tomorrow.

 

Summer Travel to Belize – Day 1

Rising senior, Madeleine Munn (2019), reflects on her day of travel to Belize!

I am writing to you all from Belize- we are safe, sound, and exhausted.  We all gathered at the Norfolk airport a 5:00 this morning, yet after two seamless flights, a layover in Atlanta, customs questions, and fearless leadership by our leader of the day- James B. Hood (2019)- we landed in Belize City before noon.

We then went from plane to car, met our GPSA team leaders, Gabi and Kirsten, and drove west toward San Antonio. On the way we stopped for lunch with watermelon or lime juice (I chose lime. No regrets). We got back in the car after lunch and rode the rest of the way. Once we got to San Antonio we met our honesty families and got our belongings settled. Side note: how amazing is it that these families are opening up their homes to total strangers for a week? It’s unbelievable and we are lucky beyond measure. We gathered together as a group in the community  center with Gabi, Kirsten, and our coordinator Andrea. These GPSA staff members went over rules, safety regulations, and behavioral expectations. They taught us lessons about patient care, ethics, conduct in the field, handwashing, plus some useful Spanish phrases we will need. Informative, helpful, and we truly saw all of our preparation come full circle. We ended with our reflection time- roses and thorns, positives and delta’s for the group, and positives and delta’s for James as our leader of the day. We returned to our homestays for dinner and early bedtime. Ella, Ms. Nas,  and I had a delicious dinner fawning over an adorable baby- what more do you need? We are drinking lots of water and loving where we are.

Unite for Sight Conference 2018

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:

Connor Tiffany:

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.

Sahib Chandi:

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.

Julia Duarte:

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.

Laura Read:

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.

Ells Boone:

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.