By Alissa Zhu

With more than 50 chapters spread across colleges and universities across North America, it’s hard to imagine less than a decade ago, GlobeMed was only an idea in Victor Roy’s head.

GlobeMed co-founder Victor Roy Skyped in from the United Kingdom Sunday afternoon to converse with about 20 students. He spoke about the origins of GlobeMed and hosted a lively discussion on the future of global health engagement programs.

When Victor was an undergraduate student at Northwestern in 2004, the global health program was still in its infancy. He and co-founder Peter Luckow were frustrated with the lack of options to make lasting and tangible change in impoverished communities around the world. They realized donating money and medical supplies wasn’t enough, and that a partnership was the best way to promote sustainable growth.

GlobeMed’s first-ever partnership with the HOPE Center in Ho, Ghana had a rocky start. Victor talked about how students from a different organization at Northwestern had donated funds to build a public health center and had hired someone to oversee the development of the clinic. However, the person they hired was an outsider to the community without the connections and resources to build the clinic the students envisioned and the village needed.

The building was lying vacant when Victor visited the grounds of what would eventually become the HOPE Center. He spoke to local director Joseph Achana who expressed his frustration over the lack of progress over the health center due to inefficiencies and lack of communication. When Victor asked why communication issues were so prevalent, Joseph said something the GlobeMed co-founder would never forget.

“We are Africans so we listen to our donors.”

Knowing this isn’t the way things had to be, GlobeMed at Northwestern and Joseph built a partnership on the foundation of cooperation and mutual learning. After the association with HOPE concluded, GlobeMed strived to carry on the tradition of open dialogue with the new partner organization, the Adonai Center for Child Development.

Global engagement at Northwestern has grown by leaps and bounds since GlobeMed was first founded. The Buffett Center, International Program Development, and GESI are a few of the many resources that help students confront global challenges. Even so, we have a lot more to learn on how to make a difference in the world while avoiding accidental harm. Moving forward, our new advocacy initiative will endeavor to raise awareness about just that.