GlobeMed Quarterly, fall 2010

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GlobeMed Quarterly

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Thank you so much for following GlobeMed at Northwestern! Your support and interest is what keeps us excited and motivated to further our progress with our partnership with the H.O.P.E. Center in Ho, Ghana.

Our two current projects at the H.O.P.E. Center – the child nutrition project and sexual health counseling and education program – have given us a lot to talk about this past quarter. By understanding the need for these two programs to be executed in Ghana as mechanisms to encourage health and education from a young age, we have developed a more focused direction and universally understood goal within our new chapter this year. Your dedication to our mission and support for our efforts has been critical in this success and growth.

In the sentiment of the holidays, we hope you would help us further this progress and personally contribute to its stability. If you are interested in furthering your partnership with GlobeMed at Northwestern, please see below for specific information on how to donate.

The people of Ho, Ghana who visit the H.O.P.E. Center everyday are touched by your support and kindness. The positive effects of this partnership have given health and hope to so many of these individuals who experience the generosity of our loyal donors. We wish you a happy holiday season and look forward to updating you with our success in 2011!

Best wishes,

GlobeMed at Northwestern

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A perspective from Paris

In many ways, Paris is not so different from New York, Chicago, or any major city in the United States. There are all the modern amenities, locals are chic and cosmopolitan and pop culture in Europe has largely molded itself around American media. The one thing people tend to point out is that the French tend to take their time to enjoy the ordinary. The lifestyle is slower, whether it’s how long it takes a waiter to bring over a check or the way Parisians linger over three-hour dinners of bread, wine, cheese and espresso even on weekdays.

In time, I realized that this way of life reflects the lengthy scope of European history and, in turn, the principles around which many European societies are organized. Unlike the United States, many EU member states have over a thousand years of history, have waged countless wars with their neighbors, and have often redrawn messy national borders. With this sense of history comes a sage understanding of the life course, of personal success, and of mortality; not everyone is exceptional, and no one is exceptional when it comes to death at the end of one’s life.

There seems to be more of a collective sense of the past, a true focus on the present, and generally less anxiety about the immediate future. The socialist redistribution of wealth and development of the welfare state demonstrate the importance of enhancing the lives of all citizens in the present rather than focusing on future gains trickling down from a small elite. The French welfare state ensures that one has the tools to be a productive member of society, and, in the case of illness or unemployment, that he or she will be offered social assistance.

It would be essentializing to say that there is only to live, work and enjoy in France. But I think the U.S. as a state and as a culture has a lot to learn from France in terms of approaches to life, success, and an individual’s place in the society. It is a preoccupation with being the best and having it all that has characterized and shattered the American economy. So while we bemoan the demise of American exceptionalism, Americans need to understand the falsehood of individual exceptionalism and rethink the notion of what it means to live a happy life. The sooner we realize that the vast majority of us are ordinary, that it’s good to be ordinary, and that–even in a capitalist society–ordinary people deserve protection from market failure, the sooner we can start working towards reducing health and other inequalities in America. –TIFFANY WONG

Tiffany Wong is a former co-president of GlobeMed at Northwestern and is studying on the Northwestern International Program Development Public Health in Europe Program.

This Quarter’s Book Club Selection: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Mountains Beyond Mountains Discussion Questions

1.     Paul Farmer believes that “if you’re making sacrifices…you’re trying to lessen some psychic discomfort” (24). Do you agree with the way that Farmer makes personal sacrifices? For what kinds of things do you make sacrifices, and when do you expect others to make them? Are we obligated to make these same sacrifices as Farmer in order to make a genuine contribution?

2.     Paul Farmer finds ways of connecting with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own. How does he do this? Are his methods something to which we can all aspire?

3.     Farmer’s work is well received by mostly everyone, but some of his practices could be considered unethical because of his lack of medical training in certain situations. How do you respond to this? No one can argue that Farmer hasn’t made a huge contribution to the people of Haiti, but how do we justify his same practices that we usually frown upon in GlobeMed?

4.     What does the Haitian proverb “beyond mountains there are mountains” mean in your life?

5.     What does Dr. Farmer believe the role of a doctor should be, and how do his beliefs mesh with your own ideas about how physicians should practice medicine?

6.     How has Paul Farmer’s work, and the work of PIH, shaped Global Health? How has it enabled GlobeMed to create this movement for global health equity?

7.     What do you think the book achieves? For you personally? For society? Do you think that Paul Farmer inspires others to work for the common good? How can global citizenship and civic engagement be empowered on NU’s campus? –REEMA GHATNEKAR

Comment to share what you think!