Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The End of a Narrative, The Beginning of Another by Caitlin Pollard

¡Adios Costa Rica! Gracias por todo.
Returning to La Selva Biological Station after about two months was odd at first. I felt as if nothing had changed, yet somehow everything had changed. This initial confusion upon our return and our impending final departure date prompted me to reflect on the past three and a half months.
I thought back to what I had expected to learn about throughout the semester. I knew I was in a relatively unconventional location for a study abroad program, and that I would be learning about topics in biology that I had honestly never given much thought, such as ethnobiology and environmental change. As a pre-med student, I took particular interest in the Tropical Diseases course that I knew would directly apply to my future plan to become a doctor. Yet as a Global Health Studies major, I had already begun practicing viewing health from a variety of perspectives, not just biologically or clinically, and hoped to do so during the semester. At my home institution, many students found themselves on the pre-med track surrounded by uninspiring stories of students who had “just always wanted to be a doctor.” I came into this program looking to expand my narrative on why I truly wanted to study medicine and how that passion would be the intrinsic motivation to get me through the dog days of medical school ahead. Surprisingly, and with the expected growing pains, I discovered my narrative became more of why I didn’t actually want to go to medical school.
In Las Cruces, I discovered how ethnobiology has been dismissed by the modern medical system. In Nicaragua, I learned that health intervention program management had the ability to make a, sometimes more substantial, change than a physician. Through my Independent Project, I learned that examining your audience is crucial in order to tailor a give-back program. Throughout the whole semester, my nights in a mosquito net or drenched in post-rainstorm humidity were filled with internal conversations about where I saw myself in the future.
This course has again, this time permanently, opened my eyes to the many lenses that health can be viewed through and the team of roles needed in promoting access to healthcare for all. Sustaining health intervention is not just found in prescription papers or colloquially-explained biological processes, but in creating systems that set up an environment where everyone has access to their basic needs. Only then, can health continue to be improved. This realization that I wanted to be a part of creating the system rather than working with it was what secured my decision that I will be returning to school in the fall not on the pre-med track.

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