Adonai Teacher Spotlight: Lukwago Gideon

Gideon is a teacher at Adonai. He is the assistant head of the childcare department. Gideon welcomed the 2013 GROW Team to the Adonai center on their second day in Uganda by leading student skits, dances, and other musical performances. He served as the GROW Team’s primary translator when they conducted health surveys around Namugoga.

Age: 25
Teaches: Math and Science
Favorite sport: Volleyball
Dreams of: Coming to the US to become a teacher.
Other: Loves watching Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill.

Finding inspiration at the 2014 GlobeMed Global Health Summit

By Matthew Zhou

From the sandy beaches of California to the metropolitan areas of Washington D.C, GlobeMed chapter members flooded into Evanston from across the nation for the GlobeMed 2014 Summit. Co-presidents, chapter members, speakers and panelists of all different walks of life gathered during this dreary forty-degree Evanston weekend for the purpose of sharing their experiences and ideals and reaffirming their commitment towards achieving global health equity through partnership and collaboration. In seven years, GlobeMed has achieved rapid expansion to 55 chapters, 2000 college students, 1.4 million dollars raised, and over 200 projects in water sanitation, disease prevention, nutrition programs, and a vast diversity of other issues. As a student summit delegate, it was a lot to take in.

My GlobeMed summit experience was a powerfully inspiring experience, a space where intelligent and ambitious students and professionals all gathered to seriously deconstruct and discuss the million dollar question: how do we achieve global health equity? There were plenty of interesting and constructive panels and speakers, but the overarching theme was one familiar to every member of GlobeMed: partnership. More specifically, negotiating power and privilege relationships to make true collaboration possible. From Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a professor at Columbia University, utilizing his experiences as a victim of hate crimes as a platform to advocate for structural change or GlobeMed at Morgan State GROW Coordinator Kayla Walker leveraging her minority status as a black woman for better opportunities in education, one crucial theme emerged from reframing disadvantages to your own advantage. These are not passive populations that we are trying to support – they are strong men and women hindered by structural obstacles that we are helping to empower. We talk a lot about global health in abstract terms – it’s how we brand and present ourselves. What we really work with and what we need to emphasize, however, are human relationships. We work with women, children, fathers, mothers, across races, genders, sexualities, professions, and varying levels of education. It’s more than treating sickness and poverty – it’s about hearing these people’s stories, empathizing and caring, and then coming up with concrete, relevant programs to address these people’s specific needs. These people deserve better than to be generalized – their nuanced stories demand the more intimate understanding and partnership that GlobeMed has recognized as crucial in resolving health disparities.

This instinct for empathy is essential in any future global health leader. It is something that GlobeMed actively cultivates within each and every member. As health professionals, we will be responsible for the next generation of public health and medical advancements; Lawrence Summers, former Harvard President and U.S. Treasury Secretary, claims that:

“We could achieve universally low rates of infectious, maternal and child deaths by 2035.”

Global health equity possible within our generation at 2035. As emerging young professionals, there is a great pressure on us to lead future global health initiatives in the correct direction. As college undergraduates, there is also a great pressure to think pre-professionally in terms of resume-building and executive positions. Many students are uncertain about their futures and obsess over jobs, internships, and their general future. We need to stop putting our faith in degrees and jobs, and start putting our faith in ourselves. No person can control the future, nor should we try to make the future safe or predictable. It is not possible. The one secure fact in one’s life is that you can prepare yourself to handle any situation that comes your way. Develop yourself, empathize with others, and live in the moment and the future will change from scary to exciting. If there is one thing that summit has taught me, it is that no person or situation is unchangeable. It is simply a matter of reframing disadvantages into advantages. Utilize the current opportunities around you to grow, and success will follow in your footsteps.

A Message from your 2014-2015 GlobeMed Co-Presidents!

Matt Zhou
Year: Junior
Hometown: Palatine, IL
Major: Anthropology
Fun Fact: I’ve broken my arm by falling out of my bed while I was asleep
Brittany’s Spirit Animal (chosen by Matt): Chipmunk
Previous GlobeMed Experience: GROW Coordinator, GHU Co-director

Brittany Zelch
Year: Junior
Hometown: Boca Raton, FL
Major: Biology, Global Health minor
Fun Fact: I can’t remember the last day I didn’t eat hummus
Matt’s Spirit Animal (chosen by Brittany): Sloth
Previous GlobeMed Experience: Co- director of Individual Giving

A message from Matt and Brittany:

We’re really excited to introduce ourselves as the incoming co-presidents for next year! We are looking forward to not only continuing to develop relationships within the chapter, but also to engage the Northwestern/Evanston community through new local partnerships and collaborations. We believe that a closer and more connected community is critical for the continued success and expansion of our chapter. The coming year will focus on building off of a solid foundation and implementing new structures that will help drive us towards our goals and strengthen the way in which we operate as a chapter. Giving chapter members more opportunities to act as agents of change, both on campus and with our partner in Uganda, will help us move towards our goals of generating a greater degree of community awareness and creating sustainable change with the Adonai Center. As co-presidents, we have a vision of GlobeMed at Northwestern becoming something really special over the next few years. This vision depends on the commitment of our chapter members, who understand that through sustainable, grassroots empowerment, we as students have our own unique power to affect change and improve health conditions throughout the world.

Considering our impact carefully so that good intentions don’t harm

Ivan Illich, author of “To Hell With Good Intentions,” in addition to being an Austrian philosopher, was also a Catholic priest and critic of modern western institutions.

By Gordon Younkin

Last week in my Introduction to International Public Health class we had a debate regarding the values and pitfalls of clinical tourism and international volunteerism. GlobeMed actually came up several times during the debate as an example of a beneficial international partnership. However, it is very important to take into account the other side of the argument and listen to people who would say we may be doing more harm than good.

In 1968, Ivan Illych, an Austrian philosopher, addressed the Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects expressing his opinion that essentially any form of international volunteerism is inherently paternalistic and will do more harm than good.His speech was titled “To Hell with Good Intentions” and the transcript can be found here. While it is important to remember that this speech is nearly 50 years old, many of his points are still relevant today.

Illych encourages international volunteers to forget about their good will and good intentions and to instead focus their attention on the possible effects they may have on the community they are trying to serve. He posits that when Americans travel abroad, they impose upon the locals the American cultural norms of democracy and consumerism. He states that international volunteers “are ultimately–consciously or unconsciously–‘salesmen’ for a delusive ballet in the ideas of democracy, equal opportunity and free enterprise among people who haven’t the possibility of profiting from these.” Illych goes on to suggest that middle-class Americans cannot truly understand or dialogue with underprivileged populations because they share no common experiences or common interests. Apart from these cultural differences, volunteers can cause damage to local communities through negligence and a lack of responsibility.

One example that comes to mind is cholera outbreak in Haiti that likely happened as a result of the influx of international volunteers after the 2010 earthquake. Many blame the U.N. for causing the outbreak and subsequently covering up and denying their involvement. A more detailed description of the outbreak can be found here. In addition, many international aid projects are unsustainable and quickly go into disrepair due to a lack of follow-up. This is especially common in the case of infrastructural improvements such as clean water delivery systems.

How does GlobeMed fit into this? I think it is fundamentally different than the kinds of clinical tourism and international partnerships these arguments are addressing. I see our primary role as a partner to Adonai. The leaders at Adonai, as locals who know and can relate to the community, have the vision. Our role is to help that vision become a reality by means of providing resources. Yes, we do send students to Uganda every summer, but this is simply a means of maintaining an intimate partnership and encouraging the flow of ideas. As long as we remember that we are in GlobeMed not to impose our cultural and social ideals on Adonai and the community they serve, but to better understand worldwide inequalities and brainstorm ways to make a real difference, we will hopefully do more good than harm in this world.

Let’s talk about periods: Learn about how the GROW Team is planning to tackle menstruation stigma in Namugoga

Periods interfere with the education of many girls in Uganda. In a study conducted in Uganda, 70% of girls reported that they are negatively affected by menstruation while in school. Girls express shame, fear of stigmatization by fellow pupils, distraction, and confusion due to menstruation. As a result, many girls prefer to stay home instead of going to school; the study conducted in Uganda found that a female pupil will miss 11% of her time in school due to menstrual periods.1 48-59% of girls interviewed in Ghana reported feeling ashamed during their cycle. Photo by Alissa Zhu/Medill

Periods interfere with the education of many girls in Uganda. In a study conducted in Uganda, 70% of girls reported that they are negatively affected by menstruation while in school. Girls express shame, fear of stigmatization by fellow pupils, distraction, and confusion due to menstruation. As a result, many girls prefer to stay home instead of going to school; the study conducted in Uganda found that a female pupil will miss 11% of her time in school due to menstrual periods.1 48-59% of girls interviewed in Ghana reported feeling ashamed during their cycle. Photo by Alissa Zhu/Medill

By Amanda Blazek

The GROW team is in the midst of preparing for our trip to Uganda this summer – which feels so far away now, yet will surely sneak up on us. From working on grant applications, to looking for plane tickets, to deciding on a program, we are getting excited and want everyone to be involved in the process with us!

A few months ago now, the GROW team – consisting of Neha, Rafa, Olivia, and myself – Skyped our GlobeMed coordinator in Uganda, Aloysious. Although we approached the Skype session with a few ideas in mind, we mainly asked Aloysious what he felt needed to be worked on in Uganda and in the Adonai Center, and how we could be of help. One of the first things he said was that many school-age girls stop going to school when they get their period every month. Now, we know this is a sensitive subject. But if you think it is sensitive in the US, you can’t imagine the stigma attached to a girl’s period in Uganda. I could inundate you with the many statistics and percentages we have found, but trust me when I say discussing menstruation as freely as I am here would never happen in Uganda. Many girls don’t go to school when they receive their period each month, either because they are embarrassed or because they don’t have proper ways to manage it. It has become a large issue in the community recently, both because girls are falling behind in school and because of increased hygiene concerns.

Therefore, we plan on implementing a two-part program. Firstly, we will conduct a survey of girls and schoolteachers about the general feelings surrounding menstruation, and common menstrual management methods. This will allow us to understand the depth of the issue, and aid us in deciding how to best address it. These surveys will probably be conducted in small focus groups.

Secondly, we will attempt to better the hygiene issues and stigmas surrounding menstruation there. To address the stigma, we hope talking about menstruation in small groups will help the women become more open about the subject. For the hygiene problem, we plan on partnering with an NGO in Kampala that can help us either make or distribute sanitary pads to women in the community. This would be a great improvement for these women, and hopefully make them more comfortable as well.

So…that’s the plan. It’s still in the works, and we are working out the kinks as we write grant proposals describing our plan and our goals. The process will continue into spring quarter as well, as we are all enrolled in a Global Health research methods class.

I hope that this has been beneficial in helping everyone really understand our plan of attack in Uganda this summer, and how we hope to help. Again, the GROW team wants everyone to be involved in what we are doing. So ask us any questions you have, and give us your insight!

Lots of GlobeMed/GROW love,


Reflection: 2013 GlobeMed Global Health Summit – The Student Momentum



Leymah Gbowee at the Summit Keynote Speech












This past weekend, over 300 members of the GlobeMed network gathered in Evanston, Illinois, the home of Northwestern University and the GlobeMed National Office, to meet, to connect, to share, to learn, and, most importantly, to answer the question, “Why Students?”  From April 11-13, students from all forty-nine national GlobeMed chapters convened for the 2013 GlobeMed Global Health Summit.  The seventh annual Summit focused on the theme The Student Momentum, examining the unique role students have as global change agents.  I’m not going to give you a play-by-play of this weekend.  I’m not going to list every event title and speaker name and panel discussion topic.  If you are interested in learning more about the specific events and key players in this weekend and this movement, I urge you to explore the stunning GlobeMed Summit participant packet, designed by GlobeMed National Office Staff Member and GlobeMed at Rhodes College alumna Sarah Endres.

Instead I want to share what I took away from this transformational experience.  The weekend challenged us to think about three big questions, questions around which I’ve organized this reflection.  In no way am I claiming to have answered them.  But after throwing myself into this experience, after digesting everything that was said around me, to me, and by me, and after reviewing the pages (and pages and pages) of notes that I took, my eyes are a little bit wider, my head a little bit clearer, and my heart a little bit bigger.


1. What defines our generation?

A full half of the world’s population is under the age of thirty.  But it seems that the other half defines us in opposition to itself.  We are defined as the “me” generation.  We focus on our own achievements and successes.  We prioritize earning a salary over thinking about the consequences that our actions have on the larger global community.  Yet so many people in our generation are proving that this definition is incorrect.  During the panel discussion “Investing in Emerging Changemakers,” GlobeMed Executive Director Maya Cohen asked panelists what they hope our generation accomplishes.  Paul Ellingstad, Partnership and Program Development Director at HP Sustainability and Social Innovation, spoke about how the generation above ours views social responsibility: get a job, work hard, succeed, and then give back to the world.  Our generation is doing it differently.  We’re not waiting to write our own success stories before looking at how our work connects with everything around us.  Kalin Werner, a fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and GlobeMed at the University of California—Los Angeles alumna who spoke on the alumni panel, “The Next Chapter,” reminded Summit delegates that they “don’t have to reach a certain benchmark before being able to give something to others.”  Our generation is unique in that, contrary to this pervasive stereotype of the “me” generation, we realize that we really do not have all the answers individually.  We are using our awareness of, and interconnectivity with, the entire globe to give back now, not later.  We want to contribute.  We are the first generation that truly has both the desire and the potential to communicate and connect globally.

A pivotal part of the GlobeMed Summit experience is small group discussion.  The eight people I grappled over these big questions with impacted me on a deeper level than I think I even realize.  One of our discussions focused on our generation’s interconnectivity.  Rae Doyle, a delegate from Truman State University and member of my small group, asked us, “What are you doing domestically that’s making an impact globally?”  That’s global citizenship.  Because of how connected our generation is technologically, we are able to make an impact abroad without ever leaving American soil.  We are defined by a striking dichotomy created by the digital world; despite how virtually connected we are, we are so often physically disconnected.  We want to learn about the world and get to know its inhabitants, but so many of us never look beyond our computer screen.

Does the fact that our generation lives online allow us to cross international borders, or keep us confined?  Jennifer Cruz, another one of my small group mates and a delegate from the University of California—Los Angeles, claimed that we need to be abroad, on the ground with our partners to “see how we can serve the community.”  She believes that we’ll have a “larger drive to serve these people” once we build a relationship.  I couldn’t agree more, but I need to ask: what does building a relationship mean?  How can those of us not fortunate enough to attend GROW internships build meaningful relationships with our partners?  In a conversation with Hyacinthe Mushumbamwiza, the Acting Coordinator of the Rwanda Village Concept Project (GlobeMed at George Washington University’s partner organization), delegates were challenged to question if an hour of Skype with their partners was really meaningful, or just ticking off a box.  What do we, as a generation, actually need to do to form meaningful relationships?  To figure this out, we need to look at the second big question of the Summit:


2. What is our generation called to do?

During Thursday’s opening keynote address, Northwestern University President Morton Shapiro said that the generation before us screwed up the world pretty badly.  It’s up to us to fix it.  But some people don’t believe we can do that.  They see us as the “me” generation.  Our generation is called to change that definition.  We have to take our desire to contribute and combine it with our potential to connect in order to show the world everything we’re capable of.

globalhealthU is a core part of the GlobeMed experience, and several delegates gave presentations on behalf of their own chapters.  Nupur Mital, a delegate from the University of Rochester, spoke about their partner, Kallpa Iquitos, a sexual health clinic in Peru.  Nupur acknowledged the gender and age gap between many workers in health centers and the adolescents who frequent them.  Both abroad and here in the United States, discussing sexual health is often a taboo subject.  A sixteen-year-old girl is uncomfortable enough discussing her sex life.  You think she wants to talk about it with a man twice her age?  Regardless of what resources are available for her, she’s not going to utilize them if she doesn’t feel comfortable.  Sexual health as a field is controversial.  It makes a lot of people uncomfortable, a lot of older generations uncomfortable.  Youth are the ones who see this need, see the neglect of comprehensive sexual health education and care, and want to do something about it.

Priya Prakash’s chapter at the University of Texas—Austin funded the construction of a health library, the Clinica Ana Manganaro, in Guarjila, El Salvador.  Priya emphasized how crucial health education and preventive health measures are to her own chapter members and to their international partner.  Our generation is called to take a more holistic, preventive approach to healthcare.  We need to educate our peers about sexual health and give them a safe, comfortable environment in which to learn how to practice safe sex.  GlobeMed at Truman State College founder and alumnus Dr. Paul Rotert reminded delegates, “You don’t have to be a doctor to play a role in healthcare.”  We need people working in healthcare fighting for stronger policies around sexual health, mental health, and all other areas that so often get overlooked.  We need to stop focusing on how we can treat ailments and start focusing on how we can prevent them in the first place.

Our generation is called to act.  Liberian Peace Activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee delivered the Summit’s Honorary Keynote Address.  This “very real and compelling” speech, in the words of my small group mate and University of Wisconsin—Madison delegate Tulika Singh, has stuck “like a little Summit buzz in everyone’s mind.”  Gbowee led “Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003,” to quote her bio in the Summit participant packet.  These women had a feeling, Gbowee said, that they “are what it’s going to take to change things.”  She knew, to her very core, “We have it in us to change this society.”  But it takes more than drive, than passion, than “visions for an equal society in the face of misery.”  It takes action.  And it takes overcoming fear.  Gbowee was not fearless; in her words, “leaders are not fearless.  Leaders do not allow fear to get in the way. … Fear will be there.  You will not allow fear to stop you.”  If Gbowee and her followers had “sat on [their] behinds thinking, ‘What would the world think?’ [they’d] still be in the conflict. … [because] the more you sit and rationalize, people’s lives continue to be in danger.”

In an earlier draft of this section, I wrote that Leymah Gbowee and the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace did not change things overnight.  This is a cliché that means it took them time to accomplish their goal, and of course it did.  Gbowee urged us, as future change makers, to “take the time to start small.”  Regardless of the passion and drive and anger fueling advocacy, we often need to start small, and we often need to invest a lot of time before we see any tangible change come to fruition.  One panelist from “Educating for Global Health: The Role of Universities” made a very simple and yet powerful statement: “Social change is hard.  It takes a long time.”

But there is some truth in the statement that Leymah Gbowee made a change overnight.  In her keynote, she asked all of us, “What is keeping you awake at night? … Those things that keep us awake at night are the things that will keep us going. … Find that thing that keeps you awake.  And work on it.”  In a very real way, Gbowee made a change overnight.  She saw an injustice that kept her awake at night, and she worked on it.  In calling all of us to action, she urged us to ask ourselves, “Do you know what visions were born into you that made you think, ‘I want to be an activist.  I want to be a change agent’? … Sit and think about that change you want to bring about,” but then tell yourself, “I’m going to step out and do it.”  Our generation is called to “see service to humanity as a mandate.”

It’s impossible to serve humanity without treating every member of humanity with dignity and respect.  In the participant packet given to every delegate, the GlobeMed Summit Team wrote that “GlobeMed has strengthened the movement for global health equity by empowering students and communities to work together to ensure every human life is treated with equal value.”  Our generation is called to treat every human life with equal value.  We need to treat all humans as humans, in the most fundamental ways – medically and personally.  In terms of how we provide others healthcare, we need to think of every human as a family member.  Paul Rotert, Truman State alumnus and first-year Family Medicine Resident at University of Illinois—Chicago, made the comment in our small group that “people receiving a certain level of care right now aren’t willing to make sacrifices for people they don’t know.”  But he also emphasized in the alumni panel discussion that medical professionals need to look at the work they are doing with their patients and ask themselves, “If this was your mother or sister, is this how you’d want things to work out?”  (And if you’re going to take medical advice from anyone in GlobeMed, take it from Paul.  He is, after all, the first GlobeMed doctor).

The need for interacting with people across the globe on this fundamentally human level extends beyond healthcare.  As we interact with members of our partner communities, it is imperative that we treat them no differently than we treat our friends, our family, and our local neighbors.  Sam Cunningham, a University of Michigan delegate and member of my small group, stressed that we “cannot treat any population as a spectacle.”  Another member of my small group, Colorado College delegate Rory Curtin, elaborated on this point in explaining how her GROW internship training prepared her to take photographs.  She was told to “take pictures abroad just as you would at home.”  Rather than seeing someone or something fundamentally different from oneself and taking a photo of this “spectacle,” we need to adopt Rory’s mindset: “I’m a person taking a picture of a person for other people.”  The GlobeMed Summit Team already said it better than I can: We need to treat every human life with equal value.  How do we do that?  The answer lies in the Summit’s final question:


3. How do we unlock our generation’s potential?

Our generation is called to change how we interact with humanity.  We are called to treat everyone as human.  How do we do that?  By treating ourselves as human.  So often when we think of social change, we imagine what the world needs and forget about what we need.  So often when we think of global health, we forget that we need to look out for our own health as well.  If we are truly going to do transformational work, we better be passionate about it.  In the panel discussion “Youth-driven Change: Conversations with Peers and Partners,” National Office Director of Partnerships Alyssa Smaldino moderated a discussion with peer and partner organizations.  This honed in on the necessity to identify personal passions and unique assets to bring to the movement.  We can unlock our generation’s potential by bringing our full selves to the work that we do.  Margo Watson, panelist and Executive Director of FACE AIDS, said that change makers need to “find the job that you don’t turn off when you clock out.”  Panelist and Founder and Executive Director of Allowance for Good Elizabeth Newton implored us, “Stay alive in your work.”  Alyssa said we should always “go home with no doubts about what you did at work.”  Margo responded to a delegate’s question about balancing life with work by saying that rather than searching for a work/life balance, we should search for work/life alignment.  The work we do must be a fundamental part of who we are.

The other meaning engrossed in this phrase work/life alignment is that sometimes we do need to make sure our work lives and our personal lives are in concert.  Kate Mullersman, a 2012 Northwestern alumna who spoke on the alumni panel, acknowledged the stigma around prioritizing personal life over professional life.  GlobeMed at Penn State alumnus and Boston University medical student Jon Lichkus faced this dilemma personally, deferring his graduation a year to align his studies with his girlfriend’s.  Three weeks ago they were engaged, an announcement that prompted the entire auditorium to applaud (and later, coupled with several glasses of free wine, prompted two other female Northwestern seniors and me to demand a detailed story of the proposal and description of the engagement ring).

More than being fully present within our work (as if living and working with passion is not enough), we can unlock our generation’s potential if we “look for the questions that aren’t being asked, and ask them.”  This call to action was said in the panel discussion, “Educating for Global Health: The Role of Universities.”  As students, as youth, as people still engrossed in education and learning how best to serve the world, we need to embrace all that it means to be a student.  Universities need to create communities of learning that equip us with a set of tools we can then bring out into the world.  As students, we need to hold universities accountable for experiential learning.  In one of our small group discussions, Paul Rotert reminded us that the world is bigger than this “academic, PowerPoint slide life” that we’re currently living.  How can we, as college students, take what we have learned, both in the classroom and in GlobeMed, and translate that knowledge into real-world change?



I’m in a unique position within GlobeMed.  I connected with this organization through my work with Allowance for Good, an Evanston-based nonprofit whose mission is to educate and engage youth in philanthropy to cultivate global citizenship and improve education internationally.  Through building a partnership between these two organizations, I got to know student leaders in GlobeMed chapters around the country before I even knew those in my own chapter.  I know several National Office Staff Members personally and have cultivated a close relationship with an alumni mentor over the past few months.  I’m a senior at Northwestern, but I’m also, in the words of my own chapter members, a “GlobeMed freshman.”  I only joined the Northwestern chapter this past fall, and to be honest, I did not feel truly engrossed in this community until this past weekend.

It’s this unlikely combination of all these different avenues connecting me to GlobeMed so late in my undergraduate career, coupled with the ingenious insights I’ve gleaned from this past weekend, that have me poised in the perfect position to act as a change maker.  The GlobeMed Summit propelled me on a journey to act as an agent of global change, and, as Leymah Gbowee said, “Once you start that journey, nothing, nothing can stop you.”

Mert Iseri, a 2011 Northwestern alumni and co-founder of Design for America, spoke on a Summit panel entitled “Personal Narratives: Working with Purpose.”  I thought that attending the Summit this past weekend was taking a risk.  I now realize the truth in something that Mert said during this panel: “It’s only after you’ve taken a risk that you realize it might not be that risky.”  For my growth as a student, as a member of the GlobeMed community, as a change maker, and as a human being, it would have been so much riskier not to throw myself into this experience.

The drive, passion, and openness of the delegates, alumni, staff, and speakers I met are infectious.  When I tell other Northwestern students that I joined GlobeMed as a senior, they ask why I’d ever do that.  You’re not pre-med.  You’re involved in too many other things already.  You’re a senior – you’re supposed to be slacking off, not adding commitments.  Yet when I told people I met this weekend that I joined GlobeMed as a senior, they thought it was awesome.  These people didn’t come here for a line on a résumé.  These people came here because they care.  They see the phenomenal work that this organization, still very much in its infancy, has managed to accomplish, and they want to do more.

I did not write this reflection.  I did not answer the Summit’s three fundamental questions.  The words on this page were written by every single person who came together to make this weekend possible.  They were written by the activists, by the movers and shakers, by the people who found what keeps them awake at night and stayed up for it.

I’ll leave you with a line from Leymah Gbowee that really resonated with me.  “The world is waiting to hear from you.”  As students, as youth, as a generation, and as citizens of the globe, the world is waiting to hear from us.

– Liz Coda

Windy City Retreat Reflection

bruce skypeToday in our chapter meeting we had the great opportunity to hold a Skype call with Bruce Karmazin, our local liaison with Adonai, to talk about how excited he is with regards to our new partnership and his past experiences working with Adonai and Aloysious Luswata (the founder of Adonai).  We are very fortunate to have him assisting us as we continue to transition and get to know our partner even better, and we look forward to continuing our work together and having more Skype sessions in the near future!


The GlobeMed summit starts tomorrow and continues through the weekend; check out all the details here.  Best of luck to our delegates, and we strongly encourage anyone who is not going to the summit to attend the keynote speakers, including Leymah Gbowee, the co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize!


We are having our first campaign of spring quarter tomorrow!! Please stop by the downtown Evanston Cold Stone Creamery between 5-9pm, where a certain percentage of the proceeds will go to supporting GlobeMed at Northwestern!!


As always, if you like what you see and want to support our cause, please feel free to donate to our Global Giving website or our Web Thrift Store.


And finally, here is a wonderful reflection on the Windy City Retreat from last Saturday and the power of networking (more of which will happen starting tomorrow!) by Meghan Schmitt:




Last Saturday, GlobeMed members from Northwestern, Loyola, DePaul, and The University of Chicago met at Loyola for the first annual Windy City Retreat, a fun-filled day planned by the Chapters’ community builders. I was lucky enough to attend the retreat, which turned out to be hugely successful.

After a few icebreakers to begin the afternoon, each community builder presented his or her respective GlobeMed Chapter, introducing the Chapter’s partner organization and discussing recent successes, weaknesses, and future plans. It was interesting to learn about other chapters’ strengths and weaknesses and allowed us to reflect on our own chapter. Following this activity, we divided into small groups to collectively brainstorm ways to strengthen chapter weaknesses, coming up with several great ideas. We were able to offer each other meaningful advice that will surely be taken into consideration in the upcoming months.

Next, we watched a few video clips that discussed how location of residence/ job affects health. The videos demonstrated that living in certain regions can greatly increase one’s health risks, due to harmful environmental factors or low healthcare quality. In the subsequent small group discussion, each group member was able to contribute different perspective and insight such that we were all able to further our understanding of global health disparities. This diversity of insight was likely due in part to our differing GlobeMed backgrounds and experiences.

After an outdoor relay-race involving charades and piggy back riding, among other things, we did our final retreat activity: creating collages. We used magazines, markers, and glue sticks to create visual representations of “what we want to create in the world.” This was another great way for us to share ideas and collaborate in a laid back setting, while at the same time meeting some great new friends.

I think that all of us can agree that the retreat was genuinely enjoyable, but its significance extends beyond just that. The success of the Windy City Retreat demonstrates that although location divides GlobeMed into distinct and differing chapters, GlobeMed is at its core a national organization, with like-minded students working toward the same goal. For this reason, it is important that we continue working together. It is important that the Windy City Retreat be not an isolated instance of GlobeMed collaboration, but rather a precedent from which we will only move forward. In the words of Henry Ford, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

-Meghan Schmitt

Windy City Retreat, GHU Reflection

GlobeMed at Northwestern had a fantastic time at the first annual Windy City Retreat yesterday, held at Loyola University Chicago’s campus!! We played some fantastic ice breaker games, talked about health as a human right, made beautiful collages, and most importantly, made fantastic new friends by networking with other passionate GlobeMed students from University of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, and DePaul University.  Here are a few photos from the retreat, and be sure to check out more on Loyola’s SmugMug!!


This coming week is always a big one for the entire GlobeMed organization, as the National Office gets set to put on the annual GlobeMed Global Health Summit, held on Northwestern’s campus.  The featured speakers include Leymah Gbowee, the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, and Zeenat Rahman, the Special Adviser on Global Health Issues to Secretary of State John Kerry.  More information is available here, and we encourage everyone who is interested to attend the open events!


To get everyone thinking about some of the important issues that we will be discussing at the summit, here is a wonderful reflection on the importance of prisoner health by Neha Reddy.  Neha gave a GHU presentation with Natalie Sack on prisoner health, specifically addressing certain controversial aspects of prisoner health and why it is still an important human right.  Share your thoughts on the reflection, and if you liked what you read please feel free to support our cause by donating online at our global giving website or through our web thrift store.




One of the most fundamental questions that we as a society must grapple with is the universality of health as a human right. The test of its merit comes from one of the most reprimanded groups of people in our society, prisoners. Do individuals who have allegedly committed crimes in our communities deserve the same access to health care as the general free populace? If not, where do we draw the line for who is and who is not deserving of adequate medical care?


It is safe to say that the United States is a nation that is quick to incarcerate, imprisoning a higher percentage of its residents than any other country; though it has only 5% of the world’s population, the US is home to nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners. The prison population has become its own community, virtually distinct from the free populace due to its staggering size. This population also faces disproportionate health setbacks. Compared to free citizens, inmates in state jails are 31% more likely to have asthma, 55% more likely to have diabetes, and 90% more likely to have communicable diseases, due in large part to the tight living conditions. Many prevalent diseases such as Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS spread rapidly and quickly. Major mental disorders also run rampant among the inmate population, including major depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, ADHD and psychotic disorders. The statistics reveal that there is no doubt that the inmate population faces a higher susceptibility to medical illnesses and outbreaks than the general populace, and treatment is often lackluster, with preventative measures rarely taken and proper rehabilitative techniques disregarded.


Though prisons in the US are often overcrowded and health standards are below those of the general populace, many argue whether or not this is an inherent problem. The Supreme Court case Brown vs. Plata precisely addressed this issue, when the Court ruled that California’s extremely overcrowded prisons violated the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, which includes the constitutional right to adequate health-care for prisoners. California was as a result ordered to reduce its prison population by a staggering number, more than 30,000 inmates.  Justice Kennedy justified the decision by saying, “A prison that deprives prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care, is incompatible with the concept of human dignity and has no place in civilized society.” This bold declaration suggested that the lack of adequate medical attention for inmates is incompatible with the basic health standards that have been set for all individuals in the US.


Attitudes about the purpose of prisons have changed dramatically in our society over the last few decades, shifting from an emphasis on rehabilitation to an emphasis on retribution. Ensuring prisoners basic health care is no doubt essential to their rehabilitation, but with a lack of prioritization on the reintegration of prisoners into free society, the lines that decide what health standards prisoners should meet become blurred. It is up to us as a society to firmly decide our stance on health as a human right, declaring what basic medical attention everyone deserves, regardless of his or her status in society. Justice Kennedy said it best by asserting that a violation of the 8th amendment, no matter how much retribution an inmate may “deserve,” shall be condemned in civilized societies because it goes against the very basic concept of human dignity. Future generations will need to re-assess the purpose and goals of our criminal justice system, and in the process will be forced to address the health issues that plague those who are trapped within the prison system.

-Neha Reddy

Reflections: What does GlobeMed mean to me (part III)

Just a week after learning of the incredible case from of a young baby from Mississippi who was completely cured of HIV, more very promising HIV news, this time featuring French researchers who say there are at least 14 HIV positive adults whose immune systems are apparently keeping the virus at bay without the help of antiretroviral drugs.

Additionally, an interesting piece on the globally growing middle class and it’s role in health equity around the world.


And finally, yet another beautiful reflection on GlobeMed from senior and current Internal Co-President Emily Bauersfeld:


“When I joined GlobeMed at Northwestern my sophomore year of college, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that GlobeMed was a social justice organization, interested in helping create global health equity, but I really had no idea what I was in for. GlobeMed opened my eyes to new people, new experiences, and allowed me to focus on my personal life goals. Having the opportunity to discuss, implement and guide global health is an experience I didn’t realize I valued until I joined GlobeMed. Now, three years later, reflecting on my time spent as a chapter and exec board member, and as co-president, I realize how GlobeMed fundamentally changed the way I think about and approach problems.


Northwestern students are bright; GlobeMed at Northwestern members are dedicated and driven. We are students who not only believe in social change, but who are ready to physically work on making it happen. I’ve been so lucky to work alongside such motivated individuals, and I am even more excited to see where my peers will take this organization in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed leading such a wonderful group of students, and feel honored to have worked with such promising leaders. I may have joined GlobeMed without realizing the true potential of what the organization had to offer, but I am certainly leaving GlobeMed with an updated, focused vision of what it means to be devoted to health equity.”



Please consider donating to our global giving website, or donating through our web thrift store to continue to support and foster the growth of students like Emily, Jerry, and Tade.