Month: June 2019

Steve – Week 3

I’ve become accustomed to a routine now that we have settled into Kaohsiung. The morning begins with breakfast at one of two small restaurants a short walk away from our dorms. Occasionally I find a fresh mango that drops from a tree on the walk as a free snack. Afterward, lab is only a few …

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LaKia: Week 3

We have finally begun our work in our labs. I am working in Dr. Li’s lab in the Biomedical Science and Environmental Biology department with Steven. Steve and I will be working on two research projects over the course of the summer. The first project will be focused on determining some of the chemical synthetic …

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LaKia: Week 2

For our second week in Taiwan we did some more traveling. We met some monkeys at the Shoushan Mountain and we also went to the Dragon Boat festival. At the Shoushan Mountain we took a 3 hour hike, which was my very first hike! It was kind of scary because some of the parts of …

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Steve – Week 2

My second week in Kaohsiung was hard to keep track of because of how busy we were. We met the graduate students from Kaohsiung Medical University who would be training us, Kelly and Geenie. Along with Jimmy from Gabe and Khoa’s sports medicine lab, we went to the mall for dinner at Little Italy. Afterward, …

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Week 2 – The Nile, Sipi Falls, and the DHO!

Week two started with a boat ride on the source of the Nile followed by a hike at Sipi Falls which was one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities thus far. The waterfalls were breathtaking, to say the least – one of the colleagues and friend we made here had actually proposed to his wife of 15 years at Sipi! During the hike we learned about the community of Sipi and the close-knit aspect of it. The hike concluded with lunch prepared at Sipi, although my favorite part of lunch was not the food but the conversations. The rest of the week was a bit more busy, as we met with the District Health Officer of Mbale, Dr. Jonathan, and moved into our “home” for the rest of our time in Mbale. We met Liz, an MPH student at Makerere, who we are fortunate to have as our housemate. We also met Sandra, also an MPH student at Makarere, who makes the days even better. The morning after purchasing bed sheets and settling in, we went to the District Health Office (DHO) for our first official day. We met different public health experts and made plans to meet with other experts for the rest of the week. One of the experts we met works specifically in the area of elimination of mother to child HIV transmission. On the second day at the DHO, we were able to get right into the field and drive up to the mountains to visit health centers with a team of DHO staff to complete data validation for the month of May. Before we knew it, the weekend came, ending our 2nd week in Uganda.

Reflecting on week 2, I became more and more aware of the strong sense of community from my time at Sipi Falls to my visits at the three health centers. This was distinctly different than the sense of community at home because it appeared to come more naturally and readily because it is culturally embedded. Of course, we build community back at home too but the process can look different as we may need to actively work towards it – thinking back to my time as an RA in college when I had a budget just for “community builders” to get college students out of their dorms and into the common rooms and larger LA community. Getting to go into the field and participating in data validation was a privilege given that it was only day 2 at the DHO. I looked through records with the staff and tallied up the number of HIV and TB co-infections reported. We also collected data on number of women tested for HIV for the first time during labor and babies born to HIV+ mothers. I was impressed all the different data books and forms the health centers had. There was a wealth of information on the communities that is being utilized to address the health issues of the community.

I am looking forward to learning about how all the data from the health centers are further compiled and made more easily accessible as I continue at the DHO.
-Laila

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