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.

The End

Written by Madeleine Munn ’19.

On the eve of the trip to Belize tomorrow, I have a few words. This year was the first and only of my blog manager responsibilities, and I have been honored to share updates on the program. In the final weeks of May myself and my five fellow seniors graduated from the fine institution that is Norfolk Academy and thereby completed the fellows program. It never really ends, though, because the things we have learned, the people we have come to know and love, and the experiences we have shared will last forever. It is incredible. At our final fellows dinner for all of the programs’ students and the parents of the seniors, one senior from each program in the BLP gave a speech. This was mine:

The Global Health Fellows have been quite busy this year –  three years ago, our program shifted fieldwork locations from Haiti to Belize. We are now going into our third year of work in rural San Antonio, Belize, partnering with GPSA, or Global Public Service Academy, a hands-on, academic, service-learning program in collaboration with Duke University and Johns Hopkins University. During our time on the ground in San Antonio, we either go door-to-door conducting home visits with community health workers, measuring people’s vital signs, including blood pressure and blood glucose levels, or teach lessons on hygiene, nutrition, and reproductive health at the local elementary school. During our home visits, we also conduct a needs assessment that we craft in advance.

Over the course of this year, the Global Health Fellows have split up into five different groups to concentrate on different areas that we believe we can make a positive impact on. These groups have been researching and working on different projects throughout the year and will be working with the community this summer to implement them in some cases or continue to monitor and evaluate existing projects in other cases. We have a health and nutrition group that is working toward increasing awareness on local and larger health issues through different curricula, a group working to help community health workers effectively organize data, a group starting a family exercise class in the community, a technology group that is implementing a computer literacy program at the United Pentecostal School, and a women’s’ empowerment group that has written two books about puberty and created a curriculum for young girls at the school on various topics. Project work is a huge part of our program, and we are constantly evaluating and offering constructive criticism toward our own projects and others, as well as monitoring and evaluating any projects we implement.

This program has taught us so much about leading ourselves and leading others.  We have been thrust into uncomfortable, even intimidating, situations, relying on only ourselves to solve problems.  It is routine for a Global Health Fellow to hold a lengthy discussion with an expert in the field, play with kids without being able to fluently speak their language, and lead the entire program in a group presentation.  All of these responsibilities create leadership skills and shape us into competent, confident leaders now and in the future.

Even in all of our hard work, we have stood on the shoulders of giants. Our incredible experiences have shaped our work in countless ways and we will be forever grateful to the people who gave us those experiences. Our directors, first and foremost, have been invaluable resources in and out of the world of public health. The people we’ve met along the way, the panels we’ve heard, the kids we’ve played-with in Haiti and Belize- they all breathed life into the knowledge and gave us confidence and wisdom that made our projects, and ourselves, what and who we are today.

The six of us were not close before Global Health, but since then we have grown alongside each other and been brought together by our shared experiences. We have performed skits, given presentations, posed for numerous cohort photos, stayed up all night in Haiti, eaten Panda Express in airports. We have picked each other up and made each other better. We have shared in victories and consoled in hard situations; we have adventured together; we have worked hard together, and in the process, we have formed some of the most special bonds.

Bill Gates said that “If you give people tools, and they use their natural abilities and their curiosity, they will develop things in ways that will surprise you very much beyond what you might have expected.” That is what this program has done for us: it has given tools to students with natural abilities and curiosity, and we have developed things in ways even we have not expected. So, we are grateful to the Fellows Program. We are so, so, grateful, because it has given us tools, and experiences but even more than that, it has given us each other and a new lens through which to see ourselves. And that is a gift.

I read that from my heart, and I still mean it from my very core. Thank you forever to this program for all it has done for us. My last blog post renders me sad but also so truly excited for a new chapter in my life and in the life of the program. I have the highest hopes and the best wishes for it and each of the brilliant minds it holds and will hold! Now, I am officially signing off of the Global Health Fellows Blog.


The Spring!

We have been working heads-down, diligently this spring. Every group is on time and on track, finalizing curricula, books, or health projects for our trip to Belize in June. This spring has brought so many new things. First and foremost, our lovely director Mrs. Hall welcomed a new baby boy into this world! Within the program, we have been challenging ourselves to question the sustainability, monitoring and evaluation, and organization of our projects.

A visitor, Tara Eskander (NA ’03), came to speak with us about Logic Models! She led us in a serious intensive that helped us take a step back from our projects and see them from the outside. We left the lesson with valuable, constructive, comments and questions to address about our projects.

Other than that, everyone has been working extremely hard on their Belize projects. Everything that needs to be ordered has been ordered, curricula have been critiqued to take their final form, and the future travelers are getting closer to their trip. It’s all exciting! The seniors are sad to be missing the trip this summer, but we are working on a scrapbook to be passed down to future generations of Global Health Fellows. The end of the year is approaching us quickly; here’s to a spring of hard work!

Duke FIP Conference

Written by Madeleine Munn ’19.

Nine of our lovely GHFs attended the Duke Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics for their 2019 FIP Symposium of Science and Photonics Technology. The symposium is two days of speakers, photo sessions, and panels. The GHF group left NA at 6:00 Tuesday morning (fueled by donuts from Mrs. Goodson), and left after lunch and shopping at the Duke student store. It was a wonderful day of early morning driving, interesting new knowledge from the world of public health and engineering, presentations about our projects, and fun road trip riddles on the way home. Here are some more details from a few of our students today…

Part One: Panel

Written by Erin Clayton ’21.

We were greeted by the staff and faculty hosting the conference and reconnected with Dr. Robert Malkin. Dr. Malkin is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Global Health at Duke and is also the Director of the Global Public Service Academies, or GPSA, who the fellows travel with to Belize over the summer.

GHFs gather before the panel at the FIP Conference

We were soon shuttled into a panel discussion, focused on Global Health STEM Outreach and using students in public service settings. The panel was moderated by Brittany Ploss, the project manager at the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine and the Assistant Director at GPSA. Panel members included the aforementioned Robert Malkin, Leslie J. Calman, and Tamara Fitzgerald. Leslie J. Calman is the CEO of Engineering World Health, a nonprofit focused on using undergraduate and graduate students to fix equipment in developing settings. Tamara Fitzgerald is the Assistant Professor of Surgery and Assistant Research Professor of Global Health at the Duke School of Medicine.

Panelists discussing students working in global health

The hour-long panel began with a question on the impact on communities with global health work as well as the impact on students. When regarding impact on the community, all three panelists agreed that impact is greater when it is a local community led campaign instead of outside forces. The conversation then transferred into capacity building, discussing the difficulty of finding jobs and salaries for people once they are trained. Next up was the question of the biggest issues the panelists were presented with. They discussed finding information from reliable and trustworthy sources. Next, Dr. Malkin touched on culture shock for students and the importance of patient interaction and support. The discussion came to a close with a question by Sahib Chandi (GHF ‘20) on the “brain drain” and how to prevent trained doctors from leaving. Brain Drain is a term coined by global health experts to describe when affluent, educated people leave a developing country and move to a country with access to better resources and higher salaries. While the panelists admitted they had no solution to doctors moving to developed countries, they agreed that investment from governments and private organizations is the best way to provide enough incentive for educated people to remain in countries lacking certain benefits. The panel provided an excellent opportunity for the fellows to continue to expand their knowledge of global health and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the conference!

Part Two: Poster Presentation

Written by Sahib Chandi ‘20.

After we attended the panel discussion with Dr. Calman, Dr. Fitzgerald, and Dr. Malkin, we presented posters of our project work in Belize to those attending the Global Health section of the FIP conference. Our project presentations included our Health and Nutrition curriculum, Women’s Empowerment Curriculum, Technological Literacy, Community Exercise Initiatives, and advocacy and support of Community Health Workers. As graduate students and professionals in the field came to our posters, we had some very interesting discussions that we did not expect to have. Particularly, as my group presented our work with Nutrition Education, new conversations ranged from food deserts, approaches to sustainability, and the language barrier of working on the field.

Andrew fielding questions on community health workers

James and Ella discussing their work with increasing activity level in adults

Madeleine and Anaiya discussing their curriculum

Connor and Leila fielding questions about their tech curriculum

Back to Madeleine… As you all can see, the conference was a fantastic opportunity not only for learning, witnessing, and supporting, but also for sharing our work with people who could offer valuable feedback. Now, back to work with eyes toward Belize 2019!

 

December/January

Hello all! This blog post is a combined look at the beginning of December and the entirety of January, considering both of those months were shortened by Winter Break. Here’s what we’ve been up to…

The seniors have been working hard on our Factfulness chapel. It is coming up in a few weeks and we are getting ready! We have created a Kahoot quiz for the Upper and Middle School students to take prior to the chapel, after which we will compile the data to convey it to everyone during the actual chapel. The seniors will be running through the chapel in front of the rest of the GHF’s to practice! We are eager to show the student body Hans Rosling’s look at our world more clearly to push back against the negative worldview that has become increasingly common.

The 20s and 21s continue presenting their case studies to each other. The 21s are gaining valuable insight into the public health field and the various interventions it has seen. Ells just presented a case study about an intervention for measles in South Africa.

The 20s have decided to dedicate the rest of the second semester (and possibly next year!) to creating a reference source for global health in the form of a book. They have broken it up into chapters and sections and are embarking on exciting research for their project. They have tackled this project in order to create a helpful source of information for the current fellows but also the future Global Health Fellows! An insider (the lovely Miss Julia Duarte) says that the book will cover everything from non-communicable diseases, to mental health, to refugee crises, and beyond! Much encouragement to our 20s on this new venture!

As a program, we are steady in our hard work on projects for Belize. The 20s and 21s have stepped up to continue these projects after the seniors graduate and the seniors are giving it their all in these last few months. Our projects continue to grow, even as they face challenges, much like us as students and Global Health Fellows.

As January comes to a close, we continue to work, heads down, grateful for this talented group and eager for our continued partnerships in Belize. Happy February!

Written by Madeleine Munn ’19.

Dr. Tiffany’s Neonatology Visit

Written by Ella Davis ‘21 and Erin Clayton ‘21.

The GHF ‘21 and ‘20 cohorts recently had the pleasure of enjoying a discussion with Dr. Kenneth Tiffany, a Neonatologist in the NICU at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. His visit correlated with topics that the ‘21s are diving into. We are currently conducting interviews with mothers on pregnancy and birthing experience, as well as creating a better understanding for global maternal and infant health. Dr. Tiffany first told us about his career path to becoming a neonatologist and the many years of education that was required to become a doctor. This included a fellowship of two years working in the field of his choice – neonatology. After years of hard work, he began actually seeing patients at age 35. He also mentioned the various birth defects that he sees in his daily work, ranging from Gastroschisis to Cleft Palate. Additionally, we talked about the different physical features of these defects and how to notice them after birth: upward slanting eyes, small head, and short neck for Down Syndrome, and a smooth surface between nose and upper lip as well as an upward facing nose for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We particularly enjoyed Dr. Tiffany’s perspective on doctors’ shift hours. While many believe doctors should be given shorter shifts, he thinks this is a step in the wrong direction, for after certain amounts of time, their actions become instinctive. Without these longer hours, these instincts would be taken away, and surgeons run the risk of leaving the operating room mid-surgery, being replaced by newer (potentially less informed) doctors. Lastly, our favorite part of the presentation was when Dr. Tiffany shared his advice on preventing birth defects and prevention tips to share with the people we work with in Belize. One of these tips was preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome by educating mother’s to not drink during pregnancy. Thank You Dr.Tiffany for taking the time to help the fellows understand the work of a Neonatologist!

November

Written by Madeleine Munn ‘19.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy beginning of winter! This month has seen hard work for the Global Health Fellows. The boys’ team won the senior case competition and the prize of three Moe’s gift cards. We have broken up into project groups and begun project work! We have groups working on a family exercise class, a health and nutrition curriculum, a clinic, a technology curriculum, and for my group, women’s empowerment, two more books and finishing the empowerment curricula. The 19s are furthering their Factfulness chapel plans in their meetings, and the 20s and 21s are extensively studying and presenting case studies. Project groups have made deadlines and are working hard on these projects for June 2019. Every cohort continues their leadership development in leadership meetings. Recently, the 20s have sent ‘cold’ emails to their contacts and the 19s have taken a deeper look within the entire Fellows Program for an evaluation of a program we hold so dear. Things often seem to slow down in the winter, but not for the Global Health Fellows!

October

The Global Health Fellows are lucky to live in a world where there are Octobers, as LM Montgomery puts it. We have given our presentations on community health workers in the public and private sectors of Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas. Everyone did a unique job deciding what information to include in the presentation. Overall, we reached conclusions about the things that maintain a well functioning community health worker system and reinforced the effectiveness of having community health workers. We then focused ourselves back on Belize. Using the information we heard in the presentations, each group was tasked with creating a pitch tackling the community health workers in Belize. We had some extremely interesting pitches ranging from improving data collection, to tackling drug compliance, to improving the home visit system.

The 20s and 21s continue to meet together to present and discuss case studies in pairs. They are learning a lot about effective and ineffective public health interventions.

The 19s are in a heated case competition- boys vs. girls! Each team of three will study this case (link case!!!!!) and present it to the entire GHF program. Our wonderful faculty leaders will determine a winner and they will be able to hold it over the other group for the rest of the year. In all honesty, it is an extremely interesting case and I am eager to see what both groups come up with!

Happy end of October everyone. The Global Health Fellows are digging in!

 

20s Observe Cataract Surgery

Written by Sahib Chandi ’20

The Global Health Fellows class of 2020 departed early in the morning this last Thursday to the Virginia Eye Consultants. Along with Mrs. Goodson and Ms. Nasimiyu, we each had the rare opportunity to witness two cataract surgeries. Once we arrived to the Norfolk office, we were given a tour of their facility, which featured an array of administration offices, examination rooms, as well as a multitude of the latest technology for eye exams. Some of these machines were even able to determine certain topographical information, a clearly formative turn in Optometry. We were also shown a room dedicated to LASIK operations for eye correction surgery.

GHF 20’s enjoy a morning at Virginia Eye Consultants!

At the end of the tour, we were taken upstairs to the surgical units, where we each watched two cataract surgeries. Since we divided into smaller viewing groups, some of us saw the implementation of different lenses, of which included toric and multifocal lenses. I had the opportunity to view the multifocal lens, which, by indication of our hostess, had distinguishable rings in its appearance. This recent advancement, unlike monofocals, improves all aspects of vision along with cataract removal. Therefore, many patients no longer need to wear glasses or contacts after surgery. Since only three of us were allowed in a viewing room at a time, the other three of us sat in the lobby and discussed the surgeries we saw. Some of the discussions began with expressions of astonishment at the miraculous nature of this surgery. I especially expressed awe at the complete removal of the clouded lens, a quick, yet delicate process.

Personally, I was most astonished by the ease and speed at which the surgeon performed the cataract surgeries. Each surgery, took about 15 minutes in total, for the removal and replacement of the clouded lens. After seeing this process, I can say that this surgery has an extreme potential to improve the quality of life of those who live with cataracts, but have inequitable access to healthcare. Along these lines, the 20s will meet and discuss a specific case study in India which tackles this problem. Through our discussion, we hope to apply what we learned from this experience to a service-oriented context.

 

September

Written by Madeleine Munn ’19.

Hello all!

The Global Health Fellows have had a busy beginning of the new school year! We spent time discussing our time in Belize and our goals for this year. We have divided into mixed groups and are studying community health workers in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas in the public and private sector. We are working toward presentations to the whole group at our next meeting, during the first week of October.

Individually, the 19s have come up with a plan to give an upper school and middle school chapel regarding the book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling. We plan to do it second semester after the college craziness dies down. Speaking of college, the 19s have crafted their addenda to their college applications explaining the Global Health Fellows. Only a few more months until applications are in…

The 20s and 21s meet together. At their most recent meeting, Mrs. Goodson introduced the case study protocol to the 21s and talked about the value of case studies. She highlighted the six elements of success, which we use to evaluate case studies, and the important points to touch on when presenting a case and its background. Sahib kicked off the season of case studies with his presentation on Maternal Mortality in Sri Lanka.

It’s been a great first month of school and Global Health (except for Hurricane Florence!), and we are so excited to keep up this great momentum!