Written by Jen Yuan ’23
The Global Health Fellows’ summer experience kicked off on Monday, August 2, as all the GHFs gathered on the NA campus for a day of learning and team bonding, orchestrated and led entirely by the senior cohort. We played some fun Olympic-themed icebreakers, had a Global Health 101 crash course, during which we learned some important global health jargon and concepts (mortality vs. morbidity; equality vs. equity; efficacy vs. effectiveness, for example), had a COVID update on the Delta variant and engaged in an interesting discussion about next steps in the vaccination rollout, and prepped for our upcoming week on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It was so incredible to gather together, all 18 Global Health Fellows, to prep for our first time off-campus together since COVID hit. It was a memorable day.
Tuesday morning, we loaded up the NA bus and headed out to the Eastern Shore. Although we aren’t going abroad to places like Belize, heading up to the Eastern Shore to apply our classroom knowledge and bond more with our fellows is pretty exciting.
Our first destination was the Barrier Islands Center, home to around 7500 artifacts from the Barrier Islands off of Virginia’s coast. There, we met up with counselors from the World Leadership School, Bryan and Sarah. They led us first through some team bonding exercises outside on the fields: values/fears, what we hope to get out of this week, and general introductions. My favorite activities were the “Marshmallow” activity and the Helium stick. It took us a few tries to make it over the “river” in the first activity, but we learned how to better communicate at the end of it. The Helium Stick was… a tougher challenge. I swear that none of us were lifting the stick up, but that thing just kept rising towards the sky (and also sideways). With some great senior leadership and a lot more struggling, we did manage to lower the Helium Stick to the ground. It was VERY entertaining.
Overall, the morning was a great bonding experience for all of us!
When we finished lunch, we headed into the BIC. Sally Dickinson, executive director of the BIC, gave us a tour and background of the barrier islands. We watched a short documentary called “Our Island Home,” in which three former residents of the barrier islands talk about their lives. It was heartbreaking to hear that their culture and way of life are completely gone now.
After the documentary, we were set loose to explore the house and the exhibits. My favorite area of the house was the room that housed the duck decoys made by Mr. Cobbs. The woodworking was so beautiful and it’s shocking (but not unbelievable) that these decoys go for up to $400k now.
After the tour of the BIC, we headed into the almshouse behind the main building to meet with Patti Kiger, executive director of the Eastern Shore Healthy Communities coalition. She talked a little about what the ESHC does and how they were originally focused on reducing obesity on the Eastern Shore, specifically in Northampton and Accomack counties of the lower Shore. My favorite part of our meeting was when she discussed ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and how childhood traumas can play a part in future health issues. It had never occurred to me that some chronic illnesses can be caused by childhood trauma.
When we wrapped up our conversation with Mrs. Kiger, we finally headed to our condos at Bay Creek near Cape Charles. The houses are really, really nice, and we have tons of food and snacks!
After getting settled, everyone headed over to one of the boys’ condos, which will be serving as our “meeting area.” Sarah and Bryan led us through an activity called AMP (Analyze Manage Prepare). We were broken up into a few teams and identified possible risks in our condos, work sites, pools, etc.
When we finished the AMP activity, we took a short break to eat dinner- pizza!
This week, the Global Health Fellows are broken into 4 Olympic teams to work on a case competition: Pandemic PTSD: Addressing the Mental Health Crisis of Health Care Workers in the Time of COVID-19. Each group will present their solution and proposed budget on Saturday morning, and a winner of the case comp will be determined. This evening, we had the first chance to work together in our teams. My group, comprised of Abby, Liam, Sophie, and I, did pretty well- we did some solid initial research and had some great ideas. I don’t know who will be blogging on the day we present, but lookout for a team called Patty and Co. We’re going to crush the competition.
Everyone then gathered outside to debrief the day. We wrapped up at around 9:20, so we had until 10:30 to chill. I played scrabble with the ’23 and ’24 girls, while others played other games.
Overall, today was a great first day. Looking forward to the week!