Monday, February 24, 2014

MIT's Grassroots Initiatives for Global Health Conference (Saturday February 8, 2014)

Hi everyone,

Two weekends ago, Meygan, Ilkania, and I took a day trip to MIT's campus in Cambridge, MA to attend MIT's first GlobeMed and global health conference: Grassroots Initiatives for Global Health.

Our day began at 10 AM in an auditorium in MIT's Green Building (aesthetically, the MIT equivalent of Brown's SciLi) with opening remarks by members of MIT's GlobeMed chapter, followed by a touching personal story (relevant to global health) by Liana Woskie of the Harvard Initiative on Global Health Quality. While munching Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins and sipping hot coffee, we attendees expressed our inquisitiveness and passion for the subject of global health by asking challenging and complex questions of a panel of Boston-area global health organizations. The members of this panel were Owen Robinson of Haiti Cardiac Alliance (the moderator of the panel), Adam Korn of Save a Child's Heart, Ann Peralta of the Peace Corps, and Partners in Health. After an hour of mentally stimulating panel-audience Q&A, we broke for lunch and small-group discussion.

The auditorium-sized audience split up into four groups of about 25 people each, and each of these groups went to a smaller classroom for discussion. In my group, I had the chance not only to talk to undergraduate GlobeMed members from other schools, but also to grad students and adults in global health-related careers who hadn't even necessarily known before what GlobeMed is about. Between swapping stories with these attendees, we were fed a tasty Whole Foods buffet lunch and got to hear Amee Amin and Suchitra Kulkarni talk to us about Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: that "(1) everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessarily social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control and (2) motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance; all children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection." Once they finished, Jon Shaffer of Partners in Health told us a little of his background and how his experience as a GlobeMed member has been incredibly beneficial to his work with Partners in Health.

After a little over an hour in the small groups, everyone returned to the auditorium to watch a screening of Pray the Devil Back to Hell (and a Q&A with the director, Gini Reticker), which was followed by closing remarks by Peter Luckow of Last Mile Health, GlobeMed at MIT, and others. Meygan, Ilkania, and I decided to head back to Brown after the small group discussion, however, so unfortunately we did not participate in this portion of the conference. Still, from what we did get to see of the conference, it was a very fun, educational, and inspiring day –– listening to real global health leaders describe how they got into their work, meeting others in the Boston area who are interested in global health, and seeing the GlobeMed network come together as a community to discuss all that GlobeMed stands for and how we can make the world a better place.

Jon Shaffer in small group discussion, talking about the impact of
GlobeMed in his life and his work with Partners in Health


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