Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reflecting on Global Health Week

by Eliza Campbell

A little over a week ago, the Center for Global Health hosted their second annual Global Health
Week. Global Health Week seeks to engage students in the study of global health as well
as encourage them to connect with health issues locally and globally through service,
research, and advocacy. We had an exciting schedule of speakers, discussions, and other
events and the week was a huge success! I attended a number of the events and thought
that they all provided an interesting perspective on global health but I particularly
enjoyed the discussion led by Professor Edmunds of the Global Development Studies
program about the role of technology in community collaborations.

Professor Edmunds is currently working on a research project where he is using
Skype and other technologies to connect women in Charlottesville public housing with
women in Cape Town, South Africa. The women connect over Skype to share their views
on community health as well as exchange ideas of what they do to live healthier
lifestyles. Their dialogue spans from tips for how to grow herbs to domestic violence and
it seems that Professor Edmunds has already gathered a wealth of information.

I was particularly interested by Professor Edmund’s research because I thought
that the idea of collective learning and exchange was a fascinating approach to
development as well as empowering for the women involved. I feel that often times there
is a perception of development as being a process of imparting our exclusive knowledge
onto others but Professor Edmund’s research demonstrates that development goes both
ways: we have as much to learn from the people we are working with as they do from us.
I think that it is important for us to understand that we can learn a great deal from the
communities we work with and that development is more effective and valuable for both
communities involved if it is a two-way dialogue. I applaud Professor Edmund’s research
not only for its focus on community collaboration but also because it empowers the
women of Charlottesville and Cape Town to be the bearers and leaders of public health in
their communities.

While this research project is still in its early stages, I am excited to see what
comes of it and how this compelling dialogue will transform the communities and
individuals it engages while also challenging common perceptions of the direction and
nature of development work.

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