Going into college, I expected to love every aspect of this new experience. I had always been told by my parents how college was the best time of their lives, but after spending a week here, I couldn’t see how this could be possible. I had met a lot of new people and made several friends, yet I felt that I didn’t belong here. I couldn’t stop thinking about my family I had left behind- my mother, my sister, my three dogs, and my nephew. I felt as if I was abandoning my family solely for my personal gain, despite knowing that they were happy I was getting an education. Every soccer ball I kicked, every bite of dining hall food I took, every step I took on campus made me feel guilty for not being there for my family.
I went home the second weekend and expected to feel comfort at my house, yet I felt the opposite. For some reason, I felt as though I belonged back at college. Torn asunder, split between two worlds, I was in a rather poor emotional state. I talked with my out-of-state roommate about how he felt about being so far from home, and he gave me some words that resonated. I was in college for my family at home, and it was also possible to have family here. I thought about how I was being a role model for my nephew, and how I would be able to provide for my family members in the future. I also came to accept that I couldn’t stay at home forever, but took comfort in the fact that home was always a part of me. I know that for many, college can cause an internal upheaval, but I want everyone to know that they belong, and that even though you may not be with your family, your family will always be with you.
One thing that really resonated with me from Carrie’s lecture is when she said you’ll never be able to fully understand a region’s cultural and historical attitudes. It made me realize that even as a Michigan resident, I don’t know all of the cultural attitudes of all people in the state, and I may never. For example, I wouldn’t know the cultural attitudes of someone from the western Upper Peninsula, or a person from Big Rapids, because I haven’t had the same experiences that they have had. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try your best to learn about the culture in the region you are doing work in. Some steps you can take to increase your cultural sensitivity in the place you are working are learning various aspects of the culture, practicing essential phrases in the native language, and getting to know the people from the region by spending time with them.
Going hand in hand with cultural sensitivity is research ethics. Reciprocity is crucial to the global health research experience. You aren’t going to another part of the world solely to take whatever information or experience you want without contributing something to the community you’ve gone to. Giving back to the community should not only be done, it should be prioritized. This means reducing your burden and in other cases this means maximizing the benefits to the host community. You can reduce your burden by being as culturally sensitive as possible, so you don’t accidentally attack the culture or impose your culture onto others. When choosing your topic to research, make it one that will actually benefit the subjects in some way.
Should you take on the task of becoming as culturally sensitive as possible, it is highly probable you will still make mistakes, just as when Carrie told us of her experience in Durban. After conducting all her research, she and her colleagues came to the conclusion that high reported school connection is a protective factor against perpetrating violence, and suggested that there be more after-school programs. She failed to realize, however, that it became dark quickly after school, so these programs could never come to fruition. Carrie told us of her experience not to discourage us, but to help prepare us for the unexpected obstacles that may arise in global health research and to encourage us to learn from mistakes.
If you are interested in doing global health work, how have Carrie’s experiences shaped your views on working around the world? If you’re not interested in doing global health work, what knowledge can you use from the lecture in practice here in the States?
This is the end. Of the semester at least. Just three and a half months ago, I honestly had no idea what to expect of my time here in Ann Arbor. As I put it, “As I sit in this room, having just finished an orange and Nutri-Grain bar, I cannot help but feel anxious about the future.” Now, at the end of the semester, I’m not as anxious, having experienced Michigan, but I’ve changed a lot. I’m a lot more open-minded and knowledgeable about health careers after getting so much exposure. I now know that there isn’t a straight path to medicine, and that it can be quite serpentine, but as long as I use failure as a learning opportunity, I’ll be fine. I’m most proud of my development of study skills and time management. All throughout high school, I rarely had to study outside of class, but college has really forced me into learning how to study, and thus far I’ve lived up to the challenge. Because I have a solid way of preparing for exams, I’ve done very well in organic chemistry, a very rigorous class which I had heard awful accounts of, but now one I thoroughly enjoy.
I still have a long way to go in balancing academics, social life, and sleep. There have been a lot of nights where I’ve stayed up too late finishing a paper because I’ve been playing too much ping pong or socializing too much. There’s a time and place for everything, and I just have to find that sweet spot where I can get everything done I need to, while still maintaining my health. When I began the semester, I had a lot of questions. Among the questions in the letter to myself were, “What will my major be?”, “What career will I decide on?”, and “Have I shaved yet?” Only time will tell. In the mean time, I’m going to stay open-minded and enjoy life.
In less than 2 days, America will have a new president, and with a new president comes new policy. The two presidential candidates, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton have differing health care policies, both of which will dramatically change health care in America if fully implemented.
Clinton’s plan builds off of the Affordable Care Act, which in turn was built off of previous health care reforms starting with Truman’s early efforts. This incrementalism is the most stable, and thus far, effective way to move forward in terms of health care progress. Another strong point of Clinton’s plan is stopping direct to consumer advertising subsidies for drug companies, and requiring drug companies with taxpayer support to invest in research-not marketing. This, along with streamlining the production of generic drugs, would increase competition, drive down costs, and give consumers more choices. Clinton’s plan does have weaknesses, including the methods by which her plan is implemented. She wishes to expand Medicaid and decrease out-of-pocket costs, but this may very well come to fruition in the form of tax increases. No plan is truly free, and the expansion of so many programs may come at the expense of Americans across the board.
Trump emphasizes following free market principles to broaden access to care and lower costs. A strong point is allowing health insurance sales across state lines, and if it works as intended, it would increase competition and lower prices. He also wants to remove free market entry barriers for drug providers that offer safe, reliable, and cheaper products, which would lower prescription drug costs through greater choice and competition. Trump’s plan is not without its flaws. A striking infirmity in Trump’s plan is dismantling the Affordable Care Act. There is too much uncertainty and risk involved with repealing this piece of legislation that has provided insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans. In addition, there have been studies that show that health care premiums would have increased regardless of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Both candidates have similar big picture goals such as increasing competition among health insurance providers and reducing costs, however they are polar opposites when it comes to contentious issues including, but not limited to providing insurance to undocumented immigrants or reallocating funds to or from government health organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Trump seeks to enforce immigration laws & restrict visas to stop providing care to undocumented immigrants, while Clinton plans to expand access to health care to families regardless of immigration status. Clinton vows to continue funding and supporting Planned Parenthood, while Trump has repeatedly called for its defunding. Which policies do you think will be in America’s best interest, or not in America’s best interest?