We share member experiences from Global Health events, GROW trips, and more. Enjoy.
As our past co-president Katherine likes to explain it, GlobeMed’s summit is a national conference where GlobeMedders from around the country descend upon Chicago to talk about global health. There are GlobeMed chapters in over 50 universities in the U.S., so we met students from Florida, California, Wisconsin, and many more states. Over the course of two and half days, we attended keynote speeches by RAPtivist Aisha Fukushima, Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and Jane Ekayu, Director of Children of Peace Uganda. Every morning and afternoon, there were also attended various sessions by many global health leaders focused on three ways to advance equity: innovation, building, awakening, and empowering. In between, we got to know other GlobeMedders through small groups, identity caucuses, and trying to find a talk in an obscure auditorium in Northwestern’s medical school. At the end of the conference, we listened to two speeches by graduating seniors about their GlobeMed experience and we said goodbye to GlobeMed’s executive director Alyssa Smaldino, who is stepping down after nine years working with GlobeMed.
Below are some personal experiences from a few of UW GlobeMed’s delegates to Summit
The theme for this year’s summit was “Leading Bravely: Finding Strength in Diversity.” The keynote speakers all embodied this theme in different ways, but one thing I gained from all of them is an understanding of their experiences as female leaders. Women face significant barriers to moving up and gaining leadership roles in all fields, and global health is no exception. For example, in my global health classes that are 90% female, I notice that most students raising their hand to speak up in class are male. K. Sujata, the CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women who was one of our keynote speakers on Saturday, explained this phenomenon and added that girls are more likely to be called bossy when they are leaders in childhood, which can discourage their leadership in the future. She told us this should NOT be an insult and we should “OWN BOSSY.” As I graduate and find a career in global health, it’s disheartening to see that in a field whose workers are 70% women, less than half of CEO/Director jobs are filled by females. But with the encouragement of leaders like K. Sujata and others at GlobeMed Summit, I hope to be able to find a voice and lead bravely to further health equity.
“Who do you want to be in the world?” I urge you to take a second and really think about this. Ken Patterson from RESULTS US opened with this in one of our workshops on advocacy and influencing policy makers on issues we care about this weekend.
“What three changes you want to see happen in the world in your lifetime?” he urged. As he continued his presentation, these questions stuck with me. Patterson said he wants to see a world in which every child went to school. A daunting task, but not necessarily impossible at the rate we are working now.
Sometimes in the stress of accomplishing all the tasks we have on a day to day basis as college students, we forget to take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Something I often forget. Why are we doing what we are doing and what we want to accomplish. Yes for a degree, but more importantly what we hope to do with it. He urged us to keep these goals at the front of our minds as we go on in our lives. Especially so when everything may not fall into place on the first try. Patterson highlighted the importance of persistence. In advocacy especially, the first attempt may not be successful in getting your point heard, that is why such a strong network like RESULTS is essential in supporting advocates to continue fighting for the change they want to see in the world and demanding it be made now. Every speaker and presenter who I talked to echoed this theme, beyond recognizing what you want and what needs to change, we must be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Walking out of Globemed Summit, I feel ready.
If you’re looking for inspiration in working for that long haul, I recommend this amazing video by RESULTS called “we have a vision”.
When I was signing up for Summit, I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had some vision about what it was going to be from previous stories of past members here and there, but was ultimately unaware of how my personal experience at summit was going to be like.
However, this turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. The lessons I’ve learned, the relationships I’ve built, and the new things I learned about myself as a leader and advocate are priceless.
My favorite thing about Summit was discussing topics that are rarely or almost never talked about. I attended two difference caucuses, one on differently abled people and another on class. Never in my life had I ever had the conversations that I had at these sessions. Being able to break down the issues on these topics, hearing the different viewpoints, and discussing possible ways to resolve or educate others on these topics is something I’ll always appreciate of Summit. Summit gave me the safe space to have these conversations that no one ever has.
Learning models on how to become innovative and better advocates were also exciting. I had the opportunity to learn about the Q storming model on becoming innovative. Having the chance the try it out through a stimulation excited me because I could see how effective this could be back at chapter. The advocacy workshop taught me how to write a letter to the editor and learn the right way to make a difference about an issue I truly care about.
Storytelling was another aspect of Summit that I absolutely appreciated. Hearing other GlobeMedders’ stories on what they’re passionate about, why they were at Summit, or just about them in general inspired me. Everyone was unique in their own way and brought so much diversity.
If there was one word I could describe Summit in, it would be empowering. I left Summit so empowered. Summit helped me realize what I am most passionate about, what type of leader I am, what type of leader I aspire to be, and ultimately MY STORY.
When I first noticed GlobeMed, I was very interested in the philanthropic and international work that it does, which intrigued me to become a member and experience it firsthand. Having done so, I have learned how truly great of an organization GlobeMed is, but more importantly how dedicated and committed my fellow members are. Everyone has a unique and extremely compelling personal story to tell, and I am encouraged to share my own. Through weekly discussions I got to learn about the stories of other people across the nation, but through Summit I got to experience them first hand.
When I first arrived in Chicago, I felt overwhelmed. Back at UW, it seemed as if GlobeMed was a well defined and unique organization, well known across campus. In that grand ballroom however, our delegation was one of many, I felt that for perhaps the first time we were primarily the listeners, and not the speakers. Although we arrived slightly late, in no way did it feel like we were behind, each speaker gave a unique yet connected perspective on their respective issues.
From the very beginning, Aisha Fukushima set the tone for the rest of summit - creating change in known issues through unorthodox methods. Using Raptivism as her tool, Aisha successfully managed to express the complicated solution to the issues regarding equality in a manner which was persuasive, but also relatable to the audience, it inspired us to not just write down thoughts in our notebooks, but instead to share those thoughts in the forms of stories, songs, and dances.
From there, we went to Dr. Brent Savoie and Roger Thurow, individuals who had had a rather polar opposite start in life and career, however through GlobeMed were able to connect and pursue their passions together. This exhibition was particularly interesting to me, as Dr. Savoie had actually begun as a practicing doctor and researcher, and only after sometime had transitioned into the role of a global health provider. It is from his speech that my favorite quote arose:
“Once the paper is published, why stop there?”
This spoke to me on a personal level. Everywhere I go, I see groups advertising the possibility of helping impoverished or unprivileged individuals, whether it be through building a school, helping clean water, or any other seemingly beneficial method. What is never mentioned however is the long term plan. How are residents expected to run these brand new schools, what is the incentive for a student to spend time in a classroom with the promise of possible results, instead of working for a guaranteed sum of critically needed money? What are citizens expected to do if their water supply is cut off, what use will the water filtration systems be if there is no water to filter?
This was the main driving point behind not only Dr. Savoie’s and Mr. Thurow’s presentation, but behind every panel that I went to. Although the world critically needs help, mindless intervention is bound to lead to only more problems. It is important to remember that we must help others lead joyful lives, rather than help ourselves feel good about our conscience.