Graduates of the MSc in Global Health program recently hosted the first event in a Global Health Learning Series – a photo exhibition, student speaker series, and fundraiser for Médecins Sans Frontières’ efforts to fight Ebola.
Event organizers Emily Kocsis and Jessica Yu came up with the idea for the Global Health Learning Series in November. “We wanted to create an event for students, by students,” says Kocsis, “to provide an opportunity to share our experiences in an open, constructive, and non-judgemental forum.”
After brainstorming several ideas about what to include in the event, they came up with one that seemed to hit the mark. “Our goal was to connect previous, current and future Global Health students and professionals,” explains Yu. When they pitched the photo exhibit and networking idea to classmates, the positive feedback was overwhelming. And on January 23, 2015, the first Global Health Learning Series event “went off without a hitch” at Bridges Café on campus, with 91 attendees.
Speakers’ presentations offered multiple perspectives and an interactive, dynamic look into working in the global health field. Topics included disaster management and the urban poor in Ahmedabad, India; slum health in Freetown, Sierra Leone; and harm reduction and aboriginal health in the Yukon.
Arjun Sithamparapillai and Sunita Kheterpal, students in this year’s Global Health class, attended the event. “We were both very impressed by the organization, turnout, location, and overall experience,” says Sithamparapillai.
“Our journey through this program and our upcoming adventures in India felt so much more real after the event. We have much to look forward to!” says Kheterpal. “It’s good to know that we have a support system with past alumni to guide us.”
Kocsis and Yu are already thinking about what they might do differently to improve the Global Health Learning Series for current students attending. “Since a lot of the attendees were from the current GH class,” says Kocsis “next year we’ll put more emphasis on the strategies and logical considerations involved in connecting with NGOs to organize practica/thesis work.”
Looking forward to next year, the organizers are thrilled they pulled off a successful alumni event that raised funds and awareness for Médecins Sans Frontières and clearly extended the power of learning beyond the traditional boundaries of academia.