Departures

The boarding passes are printed, clothes laid out, passport found, camera and recorder and laptop ready for the trip to Grenada tomorrow. To hold down costs, we’re all taking circuitous routes–some of us through Chicago, some through New York, all through Miami and then on to St. George’s, where, according to my boarding pass, the weather should be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s all too easy to think of this as a typical student spring break trip–the beaches, the tropical fruits and little drinks with paper parasols. But it’s not why we’re going. (And anyway I’m not a big fan of paper parasols.) The public health challenges on this small island are real. Sickle cell anemia, sexually transmitted disease, health disparities, diabetes, domestic abuse. We’ll each be working in partnership with health professionals in Grenada to help address these issues in small, and perhaps large, ways next week–through focus groups, health education sessions, interventions, and evaluations.

As a staff member who’s worked in SPH for more than a decade, I’m eager to see what’s taught in this school put into practice. And I expect to be humbled–more than once–by how much our students know and by the passion they bring to their work. This promises to be the best kind of spring break. The word “spring,”  after all, embodies hope and regeneration. That’s public health at its best and most urgent.

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