In the blink of an eye, I am back in Ann Arbor after an amazing week in Grenada. Luckily, on our arrival we were met with a forecast of great weather for the week, making the nostalgia sting a bit less. More importantly though, I am walking away from this project having learned and grown immensely, and I am excited to move forward with the new professional and practical skills I have gained from this experience.
While I do have work and research experience, this work I have done with Grenada Planned Parenthood (GPPA) has certainly been among the most applied work I have had the privilege of doing. Being able to meet with community members, especially in an unfamiliar setting, has given me a much greater insight on how to handle dynamic, complex interactions especially around sensitive topics such as sexual and reproductive health. Serving as a short-term consultant for GPPA was an entirely new experience for me, and it helped me better understand that while I am soon (hopefully!) receiving my degree in epidemiology, I will oftentimes be acting as a consultant with the work that I do and in my collaborations with various stakeholders. Getting a glimpse of how that process works was invaluable in my growth as a public health professional.
I am forever grateful for the people I met, the bonds I formed, and the privilege of being afforded the opportunity to spend my spring break on such a beautiful island doing meaningful, intentional work. The work I was able to engage in during this trip made me hopeful for the future of global public health work in the U.S., and how important it is to sincerely and truly engage the community you are working with. Beyond this, ensuring that the community you are serving is guiding and setting the terms of said research is crucial, and this trip has made me realize how possible it is for genuine community-based participatory research to take place, and how I myself can make it a reality.
I often find myself at a loss for words when attempting to describe experiences like this, experiences that truly cannot be captured by typing a few sentences. So, below is a video I compiled of some of the best moments on the Grenada trip–largely while we were not working, obviously! I hope you all enjoy, and are able to feel the beaming sun, sandy shores and clear, refreshing water no matter where you may be.