If I could go back to the beginning of the semester I would tell myself that it is in no way going to be easy like high school. I would tell myself to not be cocky, I may even tell myself to not be confident – because that is what messed me up. I did not realize that studying the night before the exam was not going to cut it because even studying a week before the exam will not cut it. I would tell myself that I should sit down everyday for at least an hour and REVIEW what I was taught. Both semesters of my first year I went in thinking “wow this is super easy” which was a terrible, horrible, disastrous misconception. All of the sudden the semester would grab ahold of me and I would already be too far in my relaxed state of mind to catch back up. I ruined my GPA this year, I need to own that. It was not because I lived my life too socially or went out all the time or binge watched shows on netflix. It was because I was cocky. I thought that I did not need to put as much in, but I did. Next year I will be better, but now I have to live with the scar on my transcript called my freshman year.
This lecture was extremely near and dear to my health because it surrounded the ideas that Riana and I committed our whole semester to researching – the ethical complications of interventions abroad. I think Carrie touched on the large overarching problem that continually comes into play in these situations: we do not take the time to understand the cultures we are trying to help. Carrie emphasized this through her story about how she intended to make the education system safer. She had great intentions, but formed a solution that could not actually be applied in reality. This complication was rooted in the fact that she formed the solution using her previous experiences and was simply not equipped with the “tools” to problem solve for this region of the world. We find time and time again that we are not familiar enough with the cultures of the countries we are trying to help and yet we still go abroad and try to use solutions that apply in the Western world. This can be seen in many areas of intervention, whether these are social, structural, or medical interventions. A prime example of American ignorance that I found in my personal research of interventions in Africa was that many health care professionals proposed that African men be circumcised in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs. In doing this the health care professionals compromised the African culture, as many of these cultures are against circumcision. It is a recurring problem that American health care workers attempt to assist in global health and arrogantly push solutions that simply do not fit into the cultures they are invading.
What examples arrogance or cultural ignorance have you seen in global health efforts?
Surviving my first semester at the University of Michigan has been a rollarcoaster, but I feel that it has truly built me into a stronger person and a better student. The rigor here is significant and that has a real impact on me at the beginning, but it quickly made me more resilient. I learned new study habits and what it really takes to be successful here. Professionally, I have been profoundly reassured by my observation opportunities. Being around Pediatricians solidified my ultimate goal of becoming one myself. Working with both Dr. Hornyak and Dr. VanRiper were amazing experiences and I found myself being completely happy every second I was observing; always leaving with a phone call to my mom saying, “I WANT TO BE A PEDIATRICIAN”.
In my letter to myself I wrote about the importance of time management and that I had a goal to stop procrastinating. I think that living at school really pushed me to be better about procrastinating less, but it is still something I could definitely get better at. I also wrote about being a more well-rounded person by exercising often and having a blooming social life. In retrospect I find it a little funny that I thought I would have this large amount of free time. Next semester I hope to be able to balance school and the rest of my life a little better, so I can actually find time to work out and spend more time with friends.
Although it’s relatively soon in my life to be completely certain of my complete purpose in life, I believe that I have found one of my purposes when I was working at a daycare a few years ago – impacting the lives of others. I have always had a desire to help those around me and that is one of my main inspirations to become a doctor. But even more than that I strive to touch the lives of others in ways outside of providing them health care. I hope to travel and meet people whose lives are very different than mine and embrace their cultures and ways of finding happiness. To help this purpose of mine flourish I work every day to keep this goal in mind. My success would be being able to reach out to people all over the world and I keep that with me through all of the work I put in for school and other things.
A common excuse I find myself using is that I’m just “too busy” and that is what I put my procrastination off on. But truly, I have so much time I could be using more wisely and I really need to keep that in mind. Anytime I get off track I need to remind myself that I’m here and I’m here to succeed.
I believe Strecher uses the word “unless” at the end of his talk to remind us that nothing is certain in our lives. He wants us to know that there are going to be many obstacles, but these obstacles are not impossible to overcome. I believe he wants us to know that we can accomplish anything, even when all of the odds are against us.
My question for the group is: do you think we have one sole purpose or do you think life is about discovering the multiple purposes that make each one of us who we are?