From Texas to the Caribbean

Friday February 28th           

As we are beginning our trip to Grenada, I am finding many similarities to my experience on last year’s PHAST trip to McAllen, Texas, a border town in the Rio Grande Valley. When I told people I was going to McAllen, many people asked, “Where’s that?” When I told people I am going to Grenada, I am asked the same question. Or I am asked, “The town in Spain?”

I myself would not have been able to point McAllen or Grenada out on a map if I hadn’t participated on the PHAST deployments. I had of course known that the borderland would be a unique place, but I wasn’t sure in what ways. Although I was only in McAllen a week, I left with a newfound understanding and respect for the people living along the border. I also left having had grown both personally and professionally. It is this experience of growth and learning that I found so valuable from the Texas trip.

So here I am again, entering a place where I have a relatively small understanding. Using last year’s Texas trip as a point of reference, I have somewhat of an idea of what can result from this trip (or at least I think so).

I am about to arrive in a place where the US and other countries have had a large impact in the past. This discourse, unfortunately, is not always discussed back home. Because of this, I hope to serve as an ambassador to my friends, family, and colleagues at the School of Public Health in order to bring to light realities that often go unheard at home. In this way, I hope to aide in others’ realization that Grenada is more than a gorgeous vacation spot.

Our public health backgrounds will give us the ability to do so while also contributing to the larger task of improving the population health of the island. The most gratifying part about the Texas trip was the reciprocal experience of learning about a new place while being able to simultaneously serve its population. I am confident and excited to be able to have another similar opportunity, however this time in a very different place.

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