- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
My STEP project consisted of different NGO visits in India for two weeks. We visited different NGOs that worked with different public health issues like cancer support, harm reduction, TB prevention, etc… Additionally, in these two weeks, we took part in a public health and health disparities lecture.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
This trip was a life changing experience. It impacted my view of world and increased my knowledge of different cultures. Through this trip, I was able to understand the different global public health issues and the effect of culture in the ways public health officials tackle these issues. During this trip, I witnessed so many struggles an individual faced. Each NGO wasn’t designed to tackle one issue but rather multiple issues as many public health problems were correlated together. It was unfortunate to notice the extent of poverty that the people living in these areas faced and lack of governmental support they received. All in all, this experience increased my awareness about global health and the issues impacting these populations. Additionally, I learned to work with people of different cultures and increased my cultural competency for my future work as well.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
There were multiple interactions, relationships and activities that impacted my world view. First of all, the increase in cultural competency was through the constant interactions with the local populations. In the program, we were placed in local housing which is why we lived like a local and used the public transportation system that the local used. Additionally, we were able to interact with target populations of these NGOs and understand their perspective on the public health issues. My ability to speak Hindi, brought down the language barrier and helped me better understand the populations and their cultures. Through this increased interaction and decreased language barrier, I was able to increase my cultural competency and better understand the locals and their perspective on these issues.
Additionally, through visiting different NGOs, I was able to understand the public health issues India was facing. I witnessed the extreme levels of poverty people were facing. Every NGO we volunteered at, didn’t just focus on one issue, but rather looked at different problems. Even if the NGO’s focus was on HIV prevention, they would also look at TB, providing shelter, providing food, etc… It was shocking to see the extent of different issues these populations faced and the necessity of tackling multiple correlated issues along with the main focus of the NGO. This taught me the importance at looking at more than just the one issue because so many issues were correlated and so many different aspects affect it.
Lastly, I also learned that there are parallels between United States and India. Problems facing India are similar to some problems that US also faces. For example, harm reduction is stigmatized in India and people often refrain from accepting this type of solution in their society. Likewise, this type of stigmatization is also prevalent in the United States as harm reduction is stigmatized here as well. This impacted my view of the world as a public health student. It was always difficult understanding global public health issues as the focus is always on infectious diseases in third world countries. Through this trip, I was able to see the other side and the emerging chronic diseases similar to that of United States.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
This change related is very valuable for my personal and professional life. As mentioned above, this trip was life changing. I am Indian, but I have not been to India in the last 11 years. During this trip, I was better able to embrace my culture and decrease the misconceptions I had about India. I absolutely fell in love with India and it was an empowering experience to independently navigate through the country.
Also, this trip is significantly valuable for my future and professional plans. I have always been interested in global health, but I was not very experienced in the field. Through this trip, I had the opportunity to understand the workings of global health and different public health issues effecting global countries. I absolutely loved working in the field and understanding the work of public health officials in India. It increased my interests in global public health and I was able to talk to professionals that are working in global public health. This trip has motivated me to pursue global public health as career.