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  • Coming to the end of my internship

    It’s been eight months since I first started working on two projects at Western Heads East – RECiPE and the Fiti Yogurt Certificate. Both are so different but revolve around similar pillars of global health and responding to a long-term need in the community. RECiPE’s for undergraduate students looking to learn more about critical and ethical engagement through gaining research, volunteer and work experience. In contrast, the Fiti Yogurt Certificate is for Yogurt Mamas looking to start their own community kitchen selling probiotic yogurt.

    When I first started, I didn’t realize how much work goes into planning for any kind of new endeavour in an organization. Each project involves so many people across faculties, and it’s definitely difficult to keep the momentum of any project going long-term, especially if it’s not the first priority at any time. Earlier in the semester, I found it challenging to keep up with some of the project details at times, and keeping in mind the purpose and end-goals of each task. I’m grateful for all the flexibility I was given by my supervisors, and it inspired to me think more creatively about project problems and how to overcome them. For example – what are the best ways to present each information? How can I ensure that the work I’m doing now is continuous? Specifically, this involved setting up the project files so they can be used in the future and easily editable, and being consistent in my work.

    Additionally, I learned so much about global health from both a Western and East African perspective. RECiPE is being developed to prepare students to be global reflexive practitioners, and I had the chance to read a lot about reproductive health and public health concerns in Rwanda simultaneously. The Western International events were also so profound with all the speakers.

    As my time with WHE comes to an end, I’d like to thank Bob and Maria – my supervisors who were so helpful and kind in guiding me the past few months. I really enjoyed working with the team and am excited to see all the amazing work they are doing in the future.

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  • Learning about Western’s Indigenous Initiatives

    While working on the RECiPE and GEEC project, it’s been really cool to see the collaboration of so many different departments together. One idea that’s been explored is adding an aspect of Indigenous learning component.

    One of the central learning outcomes of both projects is to prepare students to think critically about global and ethical engagement. Indigenous equity and health in Canada is a pressing topic, and it seems timely that there should be a component of this incorporated into a certificate to be started in the next few years. To learn more about this, everyone on the team decided to take some time to review the resources published by Western’s departments.

    While going through the website, I found this really interesting resources – 12 Ways to Engage in Truth and Reconciliation at Western. I know loosely what these calls to actions are as they come up in media regularly, but I admittedly never thought of them beyond just reading them. Are there actions being taken to make them a reality?

    I thought this webpage was intriguing because it proposed simple ways you could incorporate these calls into your life at Western – at a micro-level. There’s links to a lot of great resources – guidelines, tedtalks, podcasts, interviews and first-hand sources. I’ve always been an avid fan of podcasts and I really enjoyed listening to the Think Indigenous podcasts they recommended.

    There’s one by Harold Johnson where he talks about drug and alcohol abuse in Indigenous communities. In classes, we always learn about the disproportionately higher rates of drug and alcohol use that is related to other related issues like domestic violence, suicide, and education. The dominant idea is that this is a result of generations of trauma stemming from a history of colonialism and violence. This podcast really changed my perspective, highlighting how culture plays a greater role. A profound quote – 35% of Indigenous peoples don’t drink, as opposed to 18% of Canadians, and how true facts are often misconstrued.

    Here’s a link to the webpage if you want to read more yourself! https://indigenous.uwo.ca/initiatives/learning/12-ways.html

  • Working on the Fiti Yogurt Certificate

    I’ve been working on the Fiti Yogurt Certificate since June this year and it’s been really awesome to finally see everything come together! Back in the summer, we were working solely on creating the handbook, which is basically a manual complementary to the course that has all the details for introducing the whole program to the new Yogurt Mamas. This fall, my focus has been on learning materials to support the course delivery – powerpoints, posters, and handouts.

    When doing this, I’ve been really thinking about the best way to present information to any audience. I think the past few years has shown us how much technology can be a learning tool but also a learning detriment. Awkward Zoom breakout rooms where everyone’s a black screen or even just a lecture listening to one person talk for a few hours is tiring, and maybe not the best way to learn.

    The powerpoints are intended for a course facilitator to use to run through each stage in the handbook. With this in mind, I wanted to add in some interactive components that can be more engaging wherever appropriate. I felt like this encourages the audience to participate, but also inherently highlights the purpose of why the content is being shared. For example, rather than tell everyone why they need to learn about kitchen maintenance and food safety, it would be more effective to first highlight why it’s important. Here are some screenshots of the Stage 2 powerpoint!

  • Meetings and New Ideas

    This week, I’ve been working a lot on RECiPE, a certificate for undergrad students at Western. The goal of this certificate is to prepare students with the relevant research and experiences relevant to global health. As part of reviewing the components, I was able to go through the Gender-Based Sexual Violence learning modules all Western Heads East interns have to do for onboarding. It was a great refresher and I found myself with a lot to think of.

    One key idea this module is emphasizing that definitions of sexual assault differ across cultures. Our values based on where we’re from in Canada can be starkly different from others, but when going to another country, it is salient to recognize and respect this. However, one case study brought up in this module was about how an intern was invited to a staff member’s home. She didn’t know that agreeing to dinner was an invitation for romantic interest, but the staff interpreted it as such.

    In this situation, I wonder what the right decision or course of action really is. Should she have to sacrifice her personal values and comfort and try not to offend the staff member? It is his culture that she is a guest to, but at the same time, she is her own person.

    I thought this dilemma could possibly be applied to so many instances you might see while travelling around the world. For example, having to cover up when you go to religious buildings in Europe. I’m working South Korea now and there is definitely a more conservative implicit dress code that I follow. In this, I think it does more harm if you don’t conform and it’s not that hard to follow it, but these are simple scenarios. I think it would be important to learn more about this topic but the module was a good starting point.

  • Working remotely from South Korea!

    Happy October! It’s been a great first month working with Western Heads East. I’ve been able to work on two different projects, and it’s good to see everything come together.

    Last week, Bob (Director of International Internships & Development) and I had a call where we brainstormed ideas for a cumulating workshop. We’ve been working on developing a certificate for Western students on global engagement and research skills, and we’re finally thinking of ways to consolidate the module experience into a 1-hour workshop. Through this, we’re trying to come up with the best way to engage students in a workshop, thinking of small group discussions, anonymous question sessions and presentations.

    During this, I was thinking about the “Zoom University” year and how some of my favourite classes were synchronous sessions where everyone was really sharing their ideas and insights on a case study. Of course, there were awkward moments (I’m sure everyone’s been in that call with everyone’s camera off and muted), but I think it’s really the professor that made people want to share.

    Over the past year, I’ve also gotten more used to working remotely. My weekly calls this semester are scheduled for earlier during the day and this has definitely helped me with fixing my sleep schedule. I’ve gotten better at self-discipline and getting everything I need done without wasting too much time. I’m living in South Korea right now and one thing that’s plenty is a ton of cool coffee shops. There are an astounding number at every street which makes my perfect “work from home” set-up. Pastries and coffee – what else could you need? I’ve posted a few pictures of my favourite cafes!