‘Kwa sababu naweza’: Because I Can

While this may (dangerously) perpetuate my current blogging addiction, I’ve chosen to create a blog to document my experiences, thoughts, and ideas related to my interests in global health simply because I can and want to share this learning experience. Please excuse my present and future witty commentary, touristy excitement, and pathetic (yet genuine) attempts at conveying my linguistic Swahili abilities — it all stems from the bright-eyed excitement for the anticipated awesomeness of this summer!

So my summer in a nutshell: I will be traveling to Kenya from June to mid-July for 6 weeks and then returning home until late August to resume writing, relaxing, hanging out with old friends, and working on girls’ empowerment research.

A basic overview of the program in Kenya:

  • There are 13 teaching staff members (10 professors, 3 TFs) and 15 students going on the trip! The head of the courses are Dr. Thomas Burke, founding Director of the MGH Center for Global Health Human Rights and Dr. Roy Ahn, Associate Director of the MGH Center for Global Health and Human Rights. Other prominent professors include Ann Prestipino MPH; Hanni Stoklosa; Nadi Kaonga MHS; Melody Eckardt MD, MPH; Bob Keith; Brett Nelson MD, MPH; Monica Oguttu, MPH; and Sean Flannery. Yes, they are all badasses. And yes, I can’t contain my excitement realizing how badass they all are.
  • The program includes classroom work and fieldwork experience. After the first week, I will be spending Tuesdays and Thursdays in the classroom. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I will be doing fieldwork at a local NGO placement (we get to choose at the end of our first week).
  • As the the program is called “Innovating for Health Transformations in Africa,” the main goal of the program is to analyze how to effectively create and implement an innovative solution to healthcare in the developing world. We’ll be learning and experiencing the history and transformation of current healthcare topics in Kenya/east Africa in order to contrive our own solutions to problems we learn and see while we are there. (A huge mistake in international development oftentimes influenced by the “Messiah-complex” is the assumption that many NGOs and non-profits take in forcing their ideas, theories, and practices into the developing world without the input or communication with the local area. It’s an ethical issue wrought with hubris and ignorance.) — Hooray for entrepreneurial experiential learning!
  • Fun touristy things I cannot freaking wait to do: rainforest hikes (!!), boat rides along the river (!!!), and a weekend safari escapade (!!!!!!!)

As I await my flight to Nairobi at the end of this month, I’ve been doing quite a bit of preparation for the trip, including a lot of personal and required reading. My next blog will be a summation of the findings I’ve learned about the Kenyan healthcare system from my own personal research and from the required pre-departure readings I have to do. I’ve begun reading all of them and they are super interesting and thought-provoking, so I definitely recommend reading them if you’re interested in international development or global health.

  • Yunus, Muhammad. Creating a World Without Poverty. New York: PublicAffairs, 2007. (There’s a free PDF of the whole book online somewhere)
  • Bodnar, Benjamin. So you think you want to save the world. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 2011 Sep;84(3):227-36. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178852/.
  • It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcott
  • A “Learning Swahili” book

Photo on 5-21-13 at 3.28 PM

Both books courtesy of my good friend Brandon Liu!

In addition to my 6 weeks in Kenya, I have a bucket list this summer that I’ll post sometime this week. The list includes my personal goals – including the list of books I’ll be reading (Yay for summer reading! Yay intelligence!), languages I’ll be learning (Swahili and Tagalog whoot whoot), and skills I’ll be developing (such as cooking aka learning how to not be afraid of the stove because there’s a high probability I will be in DeWolfe housing next year.)

I’ll finish up my research and reading by the end of the week and follow with a blog post summarizing what I’ve learned and my reactions.

As for what I’ve been doing in my free time aside from blogging and researching? Eating In-N-Out and consuming unhealthy amounts of Tastea boba (duh). I’m very thankful to be home. #noshame

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About Bernadette Lim

Harvard University student. Los Angelena at heart. http://about.me/bernadette_lim
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