A Classroom Within the Community

By Genevieve Pollio, MPH student
March 17, 2011

My favorite part of the MPH program was the involvement with the community, the people, and exposure to their culture. It was the program’s international hands-on experience that fostered my desire to pursue a nursing degree so I may become a traveling public health nurse. Our classroom was within the communities surrounded by people, which beats reading a textbook any day.

At the beginning of the program, I realized that I had to give up any preconceived notions I had of developing countries and truly connect with the local Grenandians. A major part of the program involved working in Grand Anse Valley, a small hurricane-ravaged town in Grenada. It was our responsibility to work side by side with Grenadians to tackle their public health issues and concerns. At first the locals saw us as outsiders or authority figures trying to change their way of life but the more we interacted with them the more comfortable they became with the program and the more the trusted my peers and I.

At the end of the program we held a Health Fair in the community where we invited locals to listen in on a presentation about the program and the progress of public health awareness in the community. What I realized is that, not only did we make an impact on the Grenandians, but they made a significant impact on me – I came out of the program with not just a better understanding of public health, but with true friends in the community.

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