In undergrad I studied Biology and Anthropology, which had a big influence on my decision to go into public health. As I see it, public health is in the intersection of those two majors. Disease transmission, risk, and overall health are all influenced by cultural factors. Before trying to impose a public health intervention one needs to look carefully at the culture in the community that is effected. In Texas I will be working with the University of Texas School of Public Health’s Tu Salud Si Cuenta Community Wide Campaign. The aim of the campaign is to reduce obesity in the Lower Rio Grande Valley community. During the trip our projects include, conducting content analysis of newspaper articles, and observing the environment to propose changes to promote physical activity.
In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the community has strong ties to Mexico. Many members of the community have family on both sides of the border, and speaking Spanish is just as common as speaking English. I think it is safe to say that their culture is vastly different than that of Ann Arbor. I am excited to go down to Texas and be fully immersed in a new culture, though I am also nervous. In PUBHLTH 615 we read a paper by M.L. Arthur about culture shock. This paper describes culture shock and its various stages. Though we will only be in Texas for a week I’m sure I will still have some culture shock. The main reason being that I do not speak one of the primary languages spoken in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Spanish.
Though it will be exciting to experience an entirely new culture, I am hoping that I can get over my culture shock and make a positive impact on the community. Also, I might learn some Spanish while I am down there.
Photo by Martin LaBar https://flic.kr/p/dYtpK