Students and global health experts share their experiences working with communities.

Category: Jordan

Past Self, Future Self Blog

By Jordan

5 things I would tell my pre-practicum, 3 months ago self

  1. Your practicum work will be meaningful and fulfilling, but when your office is in your living room in your third-floor walk-up apartment, you will inevitably feel disconnected to the world around you. Find a personal hobby/project to work on that involves creating with your hands. It will help you feel more connected to the surrounding Earth.
  2. Just because your global practicum is remote and will be completed in the US, that doesn’t mean you will not have to think about white saviorism in your work. Keep up the critical analysis of your industry as a whole and your contribution to it. This is an opportunity to reflect on how white saviorism in global health plays out in remote work spaces.
  3. Before grad school, you were able to rely on your intuition to tell you when your brain needs to rest, when you would benefit from taking a break and coming back to work nourished. With an overloaded schedule and near-daily deadlines during your first year of school, you have not had the luxury of listening to your intuition. Take this summer of “real-life” working to tap back into your intuition, to get back in touch with what your brain and body needs. Whether that may be in rest, work, or personal development journey, you can use this summer as an opportunity to reconnect to balanced and healthy self-care
  4. Working remotely means networking can be extra difficult. With international time zones and differing work schedules, it can feel overwhelming and burdensome to ask for an informational interview. Plus, Zoom coffee chats are just awkward (we’re all thinking it!). Remember that everyone is slowing down this summer, so don’t worry so much about falling behind. Take a note of people that you come across this summer that you would like to get to know better and write down their contact info for a later date.
  5. Don’t underestimate how quickly you’ll complete 1000-piece puzzles this summer. Go ahead and buy a few! Go crazy in the Target games aisle!

5 questions I would ask my future, 3 months from now self

  1. How has your experience in Gillings classes, such as the insight you bring into conversations, evolved after completing your practicum?
  2. How have you worked on balancing your desire to explore the world with your need to be physically close to your family?
  3. How have you navigated the transition back to group work and how have you dealt with the group work-related anxieties that this remote practicum has allowed you to avoid?
  4. Have you continued to prioritize unlearning and decolonizing your mind in your personal development? Who is your current source of inspiration for unlearning harmful rhetorics related to race, gender, and disability?
  5. Have you found a way to connect your Curamericas practicum back to your current classes? In particular, what are some of your discoveries or reflections from connecting your global health work to your business classes?

Thoughts About WFH (Work From Home) Colleagues

This summer I am interning at Curamericas assisting with the design of a program questionnaire and baseline evaluation, the results of which will help guide the direction of a Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health program to be implemented in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. So far, I have focused on developing an evidence-based list of indicators for the participant questionnaire.

As was most of my classmates, I was devastated to learn that I would be working from my couch all summer; the same couch on which I stayed up way too late tweaking my 713 poster last December, the same couch on which I pretended to re-watch Biostatistics lectures in preparation for an exam when most of my attention was actually going toward an old episode of Brooklyn 99 that I “had on in the background”. As sad I was that I would continue to sit on this same couch for the summer (sure, I have a desk, but find me a desk chair that is as comfy as a couch!), there is something to be said for the Work From Home (WFH) colleagues that you would not otherwise have the privilege to hang out with…All. Day. Long.

My Work From Home colleague and me.

My Work From Home colleague and me.

I have a special relationship with my WFH colleague, but we are very different. While I sit all day in front of my laptop researching the state of maternal health in Haiti, he sleeps all day. While I brainstorm the best indicators to measure maternal mortality, he bites and licks his nails. Sometimes, I find it nearly impossible to stay focused when my colleague and I have such disparate styles of working:

I read about how the 2010 earthquake in Haiti halted massive nationwide immunization campaigns in their tracks. My WFH colleague yawns and stretches and yawns and stretches.

I determine whether healthcare facility delivery or the number of antenatal care visits during pregnancy would be a better indicator of neonatal death. My WFH colleague mouth-breathes fish breath directly at my face.

I examine the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months as an effort to prevent child malnutrition. My WFH colleague sits beneath me as I eat my work snacks to catch the inevitable crumbs, despite having refused a full bowl of food in the other room!

I encounter Imposter Syndrome and wonder if I have enough knowledge and experience to be in this position. My WFH colleague chews on a stick.

I should focus on the positives too. It is nice to hold myself accountable for taking walks throughout the day – otherwise, my WFH colleague would go stir-crazy. My WFH colleague LOVES to snuggle and I can wholly appreciate this personality trait. While I sometimes get jealous of my WFH colleague’s relaxed (read: lazy) lifestyle, I remain grateful to have this opportunity to impact global maternal and child health while abiding my necessary and sound Coronavirus restrictions. I think I can safely say that as annoying as he can sometimes be, I will be sad to leave my WFH colleague at home once summer is over and we return to a new normal.