Beyond Tourism

If students are going to work with and within a community, says Phyllis Meadows, associate dean for practice at SPH, they need to understand its context. They need to know what the geography’s like, how the space is organized, how people live within that space. They need to know context, Meadows insists.

And so on a sunny day when Grenada inaugurated its new prime minister, and two massive Caribbean cruise ships unloaded more than 5,000 tourists onto the island for a day, 10 students and four SPH staff toured the 121-square-mile community where students will be working for the next five days—and where the school aims to build partnerships that last well beyond a week.

Here’s a look at first lessons learned:

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Grenada is mountainous. Roads are narrow and twisting, and houses are often stacked one above the other on unimaginably steep hillsides.

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Clinics provide health care in towns across the island.

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The first diagnosed case of sickle cell anemia was Grenadian Walter Clement Noel, who died in 1916 and is buried at the north end of the island. The disease is a significant public health challenge here. Tomorrow a group of SPH students will begin a capacity-building project with the Sickle Cell Association of Grenada.

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Grenada produces cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla, turmeric, bay leaves, bananas, sugar cane, mangoes, and dozens of other plants we depend on.

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Chocolate is good.

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Organic chocolate tasted within yards of the spot where it’s been harvested is really good.

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Monkeys will work for bananas.

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Tourists will photograph them.

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The cruise industry is vital to Grenada’s economy. When Royal Caribbean drops off 5,000 passengers in a single day, the island revs up. Our driver told us that at a minimum, each passenger is worth $10 U.S. to the island’s economy. “We like the ships,” he said.

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Some people can’t stop working. On the bus: student Clementine Fu grades papers from an SPH genetics lab.

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Public Health Action Support Team (PHAST) students don’t mind getting wet.

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Especially when a waterfall’s involved.

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Group photos are a must on any trip.

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