Hey there! It’s Autumn again! If you have read my last blog post, you’ll know that I spent my spring break in Xicotepec, Mexico with the College of Public Health. In the last blog, I described how we prepared to go to Mexico, and in this blog I’ll share more about the experience itself and why you should consider an educational experience abroad.
After weeks of this preparation, my group flew down to Mexico to begin our project. We spent the first few days exploring the city and getting to know our hosts. On our first full day, our hosts took us on a hike to see El Cruz Celestial (the celestial cross) which is located high on a mountain overlooking the city. We later visited an orphanage where the dental team administered flouride treatments and the pharmacy team did check ups and gave deworming pills to the children. We also gave shoes to all the children, which they had picked out and ordered for themselves in the fall. This tradition of delivering shoes has been part of the Rotary project for many years.
On our third day, the public health team went to a local school where we began our project. We worked with students ages 11-14 in small groups where we held a focus group discussion, gave them a survey and led them in an art activity. The goal was to engage them in discussions about nutrition, positive body image, and the effects that internet use can have on self-image. The reason behind planning these activities to discuss these specific topics is because the director of the school reached out to our professor saying she was concerned about cyber bullying and eating disorders in the school. We carefully created our focus group and survey questions prior to arriving, and requested an interpreter to make sure everything was well understood during our discussion.
I had learned about how to conduct focus groups and write surveys in class, but getting the hands on experience was incredible. After meeting with 6 groups of students over two days, we sat down as a group to analyze our data. Once we made a preliminary report, our professor went back to the school to talk to the director about what we had learned. The hope is that she will use the information we gave her to make beneficial changes for her school. We also hope to use this project at other schools in the area in the years to come.
I would highly recommend that all public health students take the opportunity to engage in global learning. Whether with the Xicotepec Project, or exploring other study abroad opportunities, there is something out there for everyone. Gaining global experience is not only valuable for job applications in the future, but it is also beneficial for the classroom. Understanding how public health differs around the world, and gaining knowledge about other cultures while actually going abroad, will shape the way you view public health. Click here to learn more about our global opportunities through the College of Public Health: https://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/global-public-health/
Thanks for reading!! If you have any questions regarding this post, about admissions, or public health in general, please reach out to us at: CPH-Undergrad@uiowa.edu
Catch ya next week with a new post!