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Introducing Colby Young, GEMx Co-Op

Filed under: From GEMx Staff

Colby Young

Hi everyone! My name is Colby and I am a Co-Op GEMx Research Assistant. I am currently a Sophomore Marketing and Business Analytics major at Drexel University. Before joining the GEMx team, I knew I wanted to mix being creative with using data to the promote growth of a program or service. So far, the opportunities that this position offers have been that and so much more like collaborating with small teams and building a better understanding of cultures other than my own.  

I grew up in Compton, California a mostly African American low-income community on the outside of Los Angeles. However, I went to a private school near the affluent community of Bel-Air. The culture of those two cities was radically different in terms of values, beliefs, and/or religions and I felt like an outsider at first. I have learned that to overcome differences in the culture there has to be mutual respect and a desire to educate yourself if not stereotypes will continue to negatively affect how people are viewed. I want to show underrepresented communities, like mine, that we can grow through adversity and succeed in life. This is what motivates me to be passionate about working with GEMx on helping people in the medical field improve health-education worldwide.

Colby Young

For fun, I like trying new activities and spending quality time with my friends and family. It doesn’t take much to please me. Whether we’re watching scary movies or taking photos or going out to eat or chilling at the beach, I am happy being with them. In high school, I played 4 years of lacrosse. After practice, my teammates and I used to pick up  Pad Thai and bubble tea at a Thai food restaurant then eat at the beach nearby. When I’m by myself, I like listening to new music. I love how songs can help me to get out of my head and relax.

 

Learning about the Healthcare System in Kenya

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Frank Mayindi, a GEMx Medical Student from Makerere University College of Health Sciences [MEPI] taking an elective program at Kenyatta University

Frank Mayindi is my name, from Uganda, a Muganda by tribe, 24-year-old male currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery at Makerere University Uganda-Kampala College of Health Sciences currently in my fourth year of study, with a very strong passion for surgery, aspiring to be a neurosurgeon in future.

FRANK MAYINDI(1) EBELE GIFT ISAAC(2) MRS DOROTHY .W(3) AND KIKOYO JOACHIM(4) from the left side at the safari park in Kenya.

I undertook an elective placement at Kenyatta University Nairobi, Kenya through the period of 2nd June to 1st July under the Global Education in Medicine Exchange (GEMx) and I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone that made this possible. ( Makerere University international office, Kenyatta University, and the GEMx co-ordinators).

My stay in Kenya was full of many experiences. While at Kenyatta University I rotated in the Department Of Surgery at the Kiambu level 5 hospital.

For the time I was in the hospital, I participated in ward rounds (major and grand), clerkship, and examination of patients, follow up of care of patients and bedside teachings. These activities enhanced my clinical skills especially in surgery and also served as a stepping stone to pursue my career in surgery.

I also attended CME’S (Continuous Medical Education sessions) and Morbidity and Mortality reports in which I got updated about some of the current medical practices and different approaches to patient care. I also appreciated the key leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the hospital’s catchment area.

Photo with the rest of the GEMx members at the postmodern library in Kenyatta University

Through my interaction with fellow students, I learned a lot about the Kenyan culture in terms of language, culture, and entertainment. I cannot withstand the temptation to mention about the wedding I attended at one of my friend’s place and the fact that most of the weddings were held on Saturdays and all vehicles attending a burial had to bear a red cloth tied to side mirrors or any available place as a mark.

I managed to attend a community outreach held at Brydges Home Center in Kajiado County, it was a place away from Nairobi and I managed to have an experience of Kenya outside the main capital city. While at the outreach I stationed in the pharmacy department where I managed to dispense different medications to the different patients, it gave the opportunity to interact with the pharmacy students and also learn briefly about the common drugs used in Kenya.

Group Photo was taken at the community outreach

Through my stay in Kenya, I realized that it was a cold country compared to my home country, however, I managed to maneuver through the weather through the use of jumpers and very thick sweaters. However, there were no unexpected outcomes through my stay in Kenya.

I was warmly welcomed by the student community especially the students I was to rotate with, at a moment I didn’t feel I was in a different country, they played a major role in my stay in Kenya. They taught me a lot of Kiswahili and Kikuyu, allowed me to join them in their co-curricular activities like football matches plus tennis and also I participated in their discussions as early as the 4th day of my stay. Still, through the guidance of my fellow students I managed to visit the national hospital of Kenya-Kenyatta National Hospital-and this broadened my picture of the health care system in Kenya. All in all my interaction with the students was far-reaching and up to now I still maintain communication with them and there was no moment I felt unsafe and not welcomed by them. Through interaction with the lecturers, I managed to meet with surgeons practicing in Kenya and the chairman of the department of surgery at the hospital, these greatly natured me in the field and encouraged me to pursue my career further.

The picture was taken at one of the clinical teaching sessions in Kiambu

To any student out there planning to partake a GEMx elective in a country away from home, I strongly encourage you not to hesitate to pursue such an elective. Learn about the language of the host country especially the basic words for basic community survival and also while in the host country make as many contacts as possible to further grow your carriers and to enhance your international relations and let every day that you spend for your elective count.

 

GEMx-SNO Experience at the TUFH conference

Filed under: GEMx Sponsored Events, GEMx-SNO

Esther Hallal

Post by Esther Hallal, a 3rd-year Medical Student at the Carol Davila University of Bucharest Romania. 

This August I had the privilege to be one of the winners of the SNO- GEMx elective student exchange program, and honestly, this experience has propelled me both professionally and personally in various ways.

I had the opportunity to interact with a different medical system and while working within the surgical unit I was able to develop my surgical practical skills and further my theoretical knowledge through real-life problem-based learning. During the internship, I had the chance to communicate with patients and colleagues alike; strong bonds were forged, so much so, that I wish to visit the hospital once again in the future.

After the hospital internship experience, the bar was set quite high, which is why I underestimated the impact the TUFH conference would have on me. Nevertheless, the conference did not fall short from revolutionary because I was inspired by the student projects and the passion with which they presented. The overall atmosphere of the conference persuaded me to become part of the Student Network Organization movement; whose goal is to help students rise together. This is how I became the European Regional Representative of the Student Network Organization and now it is also my mission to empower students alike around the world.

 

Prudence Baliach, Yassein Kamaland, and Esther Hallal at the TUFH conference

Group Photo at the Conference

Esther Hallal and two colleagues in their scrubs!

 

Ntuthuko Mkhabela’s Cardiology Elective Exchange to Uganda

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

Ntuthuko Mkhabela

Post by Ntuthuko Mkhabela, a 5th- year medical student at the University of KwaZulu- Natal in South Africa taking an elective program to Makerere University in Uganda. (Student on the left)

Introduction

My name is Ntuthuko Mkhabela, I am a 5th-year medical student at the University of KwaZulu- Natal in South Africa.

I was afforded the opportunity to do a Cardiology elective program in Makerere Univerity in Uganda at the Mulago Hospital Heart Institute from the 4th until the 23rd of June 2018 by the GEMx.

I found this to be a great learning opportunity and also a very prodigious chance to explore new places and meet new people. From when I got to Uganda I found that everyone was very friendly, though it was difficult at first to settle in and comprehend how somethings are done but within a few days, it really felt like home.

Academics

Group photo at the hospital

I had to admit that I had the best bedside teaching at the Heart Institute and they have the best grand round on Tuesdays with the best and most enthusiastic teachers I have ever had any chance to meet.

I was a great honor to get teaching from Dr. Batambuze “The Lord of the Heroes” as he refers to himself when entering the ward, he isn’t only a great consultant but also offers the best form of teaching in a very passionate and motivating way; and he also has a great sense of humor.

He was very patient with us and even though he had not come to teach undergraduate students. He made us feel welcome and were willing to assist us wherever we got lost. He would take us all the way from basic science and anatomy up to the clinical and bedside medicine and the one thing he really enforced was the importance of proper and evidence-based bedside clinical medicine and how it would assist in saving a patient’s life and for that I would like to forward my special thanks to him.

Ntuthuko Mkhabela and Lindokuhle Dlamini

We also had the best team in the ward led by Dr. Majwala who also held our hands throughout the period together with his MMed students: Dr. Ssibuliba, Dr. Were, and Dr. Herbert. They were willing to not only share their much valuable knowledge with us but also even shared some of their resources with us.

It was really a great motivation to me and if given the opportunity I would definitely love to work with them again because I think there is a lot that I could learn from them and it wouldn’t be just for me to not appreciate these great individuals. It also wouldn’t be just for me not to appreciate Dr. Lugero for his great teaching, he was the first to welcome us and he rightfully told us that he cannot welcome us with a party or whatever but he can only welcome us with academic questions and indeed his teaching remains highly appreciated. I would also like to appreciate all the other doctors I have not mentioned above who also were willingly and undoubtedly making efforts to ensure that we are trained to become great clinicians.

I also had an opportunity to spend some time in the Cath Lab to see how coronary stents are inserted and again we were welcomed with warm hands and without any objections taught us as much as they could within the little time we had in there and it was again a memorable experience.

Briefly, I would just say I the academic side of my visit had the best teaching I have ever been exposed to in my life and I remain grateful, and one would then safely say the purpose of the trip was fulfilled.

Social

Ntuthuko Mkhabela selfie

During my stay in Uganda, I had a chance to explore a number of places in the area, starting with the tour around Makerere University which we had with Clement who was a great host and was always there when we needed him. He became more than just ‘a student who was supposed to show us around’, he became a friend and a colleague who we shared a lot of great moments with and also shared knowledge.

He is a great leader and has been in the student leadership myself, we actually shared a lot in common hence we got along very easily and I sure do wish him well in the future and hope we do meet again at some point.

I also had an opportunity of watching the multicultural tribes of Uganda performing their traditional dance TWICE because for some reason I just couldn’t have enough of their dance,  jokes,  music and of course the food courtesy of Dr. Isaac.

Ntuthuko Mkhabela enjoying traditional activities

This was a great experience and it made me wish to get a chance to go live in their rural areas for at least a day so I could be part of the traditional activities and have the first-hand experience of how it actually feels to be one of them because I was already feeling like one of them even at that time. I couldn’t really tell whether this gentleman was too tall or it’s just that I am very short but I honestly had the most fun at this cultural dance event I also had an opportunity to go and watch a local rugby tournament and also meet up with other medical students from different other countries from all around the world. I made a lot of friends who I learned a lot from; we also watched a number of world cup games together and shared a lot of fun moments. With some, we even share the same accommodation which allowed us to get to know each other even more.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to the Safari and to Lake Victoria with them, which I really think it would have been really great adventure given the fact that it was in the home of the Nile Rivers its self.

Ntuthuko Mkhabela enjoying his stay in Uganda

Conclusion

Even though the trip started off on a very frustrating note from missing our flight and having to spend a night in Johannesburg to serious financial constraints but in the end, all the efforts were worth it and I definitely would relive every moment of it if given the chance again. I appreciate the opportunity that was afforded to me and would like to thank everyone who put their efforts into ensuring that this trip became a success.

Smiling with my new friends

I think this GEMx initiative is a great one and really I would like to see more people from our school taking part in it.

Thank You

 

 

 

 

Get to know Mercy Muhadia Okova

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

Post by Mercy Muhadia Okova, a 5th-year medical student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. 

I spent most of my childhood days in the rural area, the western part of Kenya and my high school and college days in the capital city Nairobi. I have a taste of both rural and urban life which makes life easier for me because I know how to deal with people from both sides.

When I was young I would sing the common song of many children that when I grow up I would like to be a doctor. However, that dream made sense when my dad fell critically ill and I wanted to understand what was happening to him and help where I can. I was also motivated by a young lady: a medical doctor who was in her second year of residency in Neurosurgery. That made me believe young ladies can also excel in the field of medicine. I excelled in my final high school examination and got admitted to study medicine.

Unfortunately, my dad passed away while I was in my first year of study before I could barely understand what made him unwell. Later on, I understood and this fueled my passion to fight Non-communicable diseases(NCDs) by creating awareness on healthy lifestyle practices for prevention of Non-communicable diseases. I write articles concerning NCDs on my blog mercyokovaonncds.wordpress.com

I learned of the GEMx electives through my classmate and we met the coordinator in my school who guided me in applying for an elective at University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and got accepted to rotate in the Department of Family Medicine. I am glad to have met a very pleasant team lead by Professor Mergan Naidoo. The program is quite busy already learning a lot in the first week. I hope to share more experiences as the elective goes on.

Sharing Experiences That Changed My Life

Filed under: GEMx Student Ambassador Network, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Fuensanta Guerrero del Cueto,  Student Ambassador at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) guest speaker at the Manipal Teaching Hospital in Pokhara,  Nepal.

I believe in the importance of understanding and embracing diversity as a fundamental part of the medical profession.

When I was elected to be a Student Ambassador at UNAM, my main aim was to share my love for medicine, education and cultural exchange with fellow students who would later become my colleagues. If we can see ourselves in our patients, their families, other students, and doctors, no matter how different they may seem at the beginning, empathy will drive us to provide the best care that we can. An international experience is a great element to encourage it, and this is what I tried to transmit at the Leadership in Medicine lecture on 17 November 2016 during CICOM.

I was invited as a guest speaker to share my GEMx exchange experience at Manipal Teaching Hospital in Pokhara, Nepal in 2015. I was very excited until I knew that it would take place at the main auditorium of my school, which has room for 965 people, in front of all the UNAM and visiting students that were present at the contest. This certainly posed a challenge, since as a teaching assistant I had only given lectures to 40 or 50 students maximum. I felt that this great audience deserved to hear not only my story, but those of all UNAM students who had gone to Nepal before me, so I decided to compile pictures and quotes to show them why this elective had changed all our lives.

Embracing traditions: the celebration of Teej women’s festival with nurses from the Hospital

I told them that I had chosen Nepal because there was no place further away from Mexico that I could have traveled to (it is almost our geographical antipode). However, this turned out to be even more challenging because I arrived right after the 2015 earthquake and during a fuel crisis period. What shocked me at first was the difficulty to communicate with patients whose language I did not speak or understand. However, language barriers encouraged my reflection, since they are always present, not only with Nepali but even with Mexican indigenous languages or when caring for people without formal education.

Additionally, the importance of traditions and family structure is shared between my country and Nepal, and this is something that must not be overlooked by the medical professionals. Lastly, the strength of our people to “do more with less,” overcoming hardships and getting the best out of what they have is one of the most admirable qualities that we share with Nepal.

An elderly woman carrying wood during the fuel crisis. In the background, you can see Manipal Teaching Hospital and the Himalayan range

Community Medicine elective allowed me to approach marginalized populations in Tibetan refugee camps or in the mountains, where medical attention is difficult to access. The similarities between this country and my own were very meaningful for me. I became more aware of social and environmental determinants of health, and how patient education and empowerment are fundamental in these settings. This supported my decision to choose Global health and One health pathways for my medical career.

The opportunity to tell my story and try to inspire others was one of the best experiences as a member of the Student Ambassador Network, which I tried to continue during my outreach activities. I believe that medical students who dare to go out of their comfort zone will discover that “the others” are very similar to themselves. We need to become less isolated from one another in an increasingly globalized world where developmental and health challenges transcend national boundaries.

Team for outreach clinic with British nurses and Nepali doctor

 

Get to know Businge Alinaitwe

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

Businge Alinaitwe

Post by Businge Alinaitwe a student on an elective exchange from Makerere University College of Health Sciences [NEPI] to Lusaka School of Nursing and Midwifery [NEPI]

Hello,

Briefly about myself,

I am a Ugandan male, self-driven, motivated and interested in personal growth and development in all aspects of life including social, economic, interpersonal and professional growth. I love my family so much as well as engaging in business. Professionally, I am interested in delivering quality healthcare and I believe in the future I will be able to establish a quality ensuring health facility. I like soccer so much, being a Bayern Munich and German National team fan. I love engaging in athletics as well as adventuring. My Facebook name is Busi Mohbyl and on Twitter, I can be found at @busimohbyl.

As of now, I am really enjoying Lusaka for the people here are hospitable and loving. The weather is cool. The learning is good as the clinical instructors at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) are so much willing to teach and guide us. I am really so much privileged to have such an opportunity, thank you GEMx.

Businge Alinaitwe.

Smiling with colleagues

 

The 4 Amazing Weeks in Nairobi, Kenya

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Joachim Nsubuga Kikoyo

Post by Joachim Nsubuga Kikoyo, final year medical student from Makerere University Medical School.

I wake up, time check 7:46 AM, I know it’s a different morning, one that is starting the day that I am going to have the longest and funniest journey of my life. Deep into my heart, I sing, “I am going to have the most amazing time for the next month.” My name is Joachim Nsubuga Kikoyo, a final year medical student from Makerere University Medical School and this is my four-week experience in Nairobi.

 

TRAVELS

Well anticipated, me and my colleagues including; Bitira Lyness, Wassajja John Bosco, Akanyijuka Abel, Mayindi Frank and Ebele Isaac Gift had already paid our bus tickets two days prior; so we are already at the bus station at 6:25 PM. Our luggage is packed and there we are, setting off at 7:09 PM.

Taking selfies on the bus

4 hours later, we are at the Uganda-Kenya border, cleared everything normally, but then one thing is messed up. Our bus has broken down. We are stuck for almost one and a half hours until we get back to the road. One good thing was that we got to have a wonderful view en route including the Naivasha Game Park, and Savanna Vegetation! It was some sort of a blessing. We however arrived and settled in Solomon plaza, in Kahawa Wendani in Nairobi.

FIRST DAY

I can’t completely describe the feeling, the wonderful environment, friendly people, the food, the glamorous weather, etc. To make this interesting, I will split this into parts.

a) Food

The food is not so much different from our food.  Just what we eat at home as snacks are what they actually eat as lunch, and supper. For example one can have a Chapatti (Chapo) with any sauce, beans, meat, etc. well they have lots of new foods I’ve never eaten, seen or even heard before, say for example; Ndegu, Mutura, and Mukimo

Ndengu;

I always call these ‘tiny peas’. They almost have the same taste. They are greatly delicious especially when served with rice.

Ndengu “Tiny Peas”

Mutura:

Mutura dish

My favorite; I almost ate it every day. It consists of offal’s packed with minced meat and usually some fats. It is either fried or grilled and then served with salad or chili. The taste is confusing between offal’s and meat if you have ever tasted both separately.

 

 

Mukimo:

Mukimo dish

A mixture of Irish potatoes, maize and pumpkin leaves that gives it the green color, all mashed together to form one solid chunk. The taste too is combinational, though the Irish potato taste is prevailing.

 

b) The people and the language

I can possibly say, Kenyans are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Not that I haven’t met all of them, but it gave me that ill feeling that I don’t usually act in the same way when other visiting international students come at Makerere. I mean, who stops and asks if you are lost; and then after directs you, where you desired to go.

One only challenge though is the language. Kenyans speak, mostly Swahili, English and some speak some Kikuyu and other native languages. It’s funny that I don’t speak Swahili yet I come from the great East African region that is thought to be speaking Swahili as a joint language. But anyway I labored to learn how to speak some including: How you would inquire about a price, Ordering some food, Asking for directions and of course How to greet I still got many friends though, including; Punam Raval Ajay, Brian M Mbogo, Vugutsa Magada, Daudi E Musokyi, Dennis Mukabati, Juliet Wanjiri N .

Joachim taking pictures with his colleagues

An interesting thing though is that people who speak English are often thought to have more money, “a rich kid.” When you are negotiating prices you will always be charged extra despite your resemblance to the natives if you can speak English.

On Sundays, I took off some morning hours to attend mass. The mass was amazing attending one in a new community. Everything was however normal since it’s the same procedure like one at home, just the language though.

 

c) Transportation

Well if you are from Kampala and you are used to the boda-boda guys; in Nairobi they are rare, if you are to get one, which is possible, they are a bit high at cost and usually not allowed in the city center. So you will probably enjoy their great matatus (taxis). One funny thing with them is that, if you are to board one of them (that is if you are lucky) it will feel like you are entering a club. The matatus have loud booming music, flickering lights, and a large TV set in the front. The ride is inexpensive as a 2 km distance can cost you as low as 10KSHS.

d) Prices

The standards of living in Nairobi are kind of higher than that in Kampala. It’s worse if you don’t know where to buy the cheaper stuff if you can’t speak Swahili and worse if you are bargaining in English. So if you have a Kenyan friend, stick to that one, he/she will probably save you.

e) The Weather and Climate.

Not so much from the one in Kampala, its rainy season in June and so in Nairobi. It’s too cold, you will probably consider coming with winter clothes to be on a safe side.

f) Sports and Leisure.

A lot of sports activities exist at Kenyatta University; Soccer, Hockey, Basketball, Handball, etc. The sport I am interested in is soccer. It is fun to play around with my Kenyan brothers, even when communication skills are poor. At least you can use sign language or even struggle to shout Swahili words, but anyway, the major thing is I enjoyed playing soccer.

HOSPITAL WORK

Kenya organizes their health system in a stepwise manner so as complicated cases are referred to a higher level i.e. from level 1 (Community Level) to level 6 (National Referral Hospital).

I was stationed at Kiambu Hospital, a level 5 facility, with almost all facilities to manage most of the conditions in Kiambu County of Kenya. I was rotating in Pediatrics and it consisted of three wards; Newborn unit (NBU), Ward, 1 and Out-patient Department. I decided to rotate in each of these wards weekly.

a) NBU

NBU Facilities

Not so much different from the one in Mulago, with nearly all facilities, with a good sense of organization and yeah the crying cute little ones who I loved to be around with. One other thing though, it’s kind of too hot in there, so it was usually my safe haven for the freezing cold weather during that week. At NBU, that’s where I got to be taught by Dr. Mugane a neonatologist, who took me through the common conditions managed at their unit and how and they are handled.

 

 

b) Ward 1

Doctors from Ward 1

The ward consists of the resuscitation area, the acute respiratory emergency management, and others. One specific thing, however, is that I was lucky to be taught by the pediatrician, Dr. Grace Akech Ochieng, a consultant pediatric cardiologist, who took me through the echocardiography. I learned how it is taken, read, and interpreted. It was my first time seeing one be done.

 The Medical Camp

This involved boarding buses to Isinya in Kijiado County, South of Kenya at a children’s center (Brydges center). It involved examining the kids, providing them with prophylactic treatment and distributing hygienic supplies. It was fun to hang around small kids even when I know we can barely communicate.

THE TOUR OF THE NAIROBI SAFARI WALK

My colleagues and I got to visit the only game park in the capital of the nation.  This involved sight and sound of different animals, trees, the river and the people. Though it is not my first time to see animals like the ostrich, hippopotamus, hyena, buffalo, crocodiles, and many others, it was however too long since I last saw any of them. I guess my last time was when I was 8 or 9 years old. The best part of all of the tour was being able to hang out with the newly acquired friends and enjoying every moment of it.

THE LAST DAY

I hate goodbyes, but unfortunately, that’s life! Everything has a beginning and an end. It was the end of the four weeks; I knew this would be hurting to leave. So I had to say the hard words. Even though I know I will see them again.

The picture with the GEMx team

 

Get to know: Imelda Namatovu

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Imelda standing in front of the airplane.

Post by Imelda Namatovu, a student from Makerere University College of Health Sciences [NEPI]  on an elective exchange to Lusaka School of Nursing and Midwifery [NEPI] 

The cyclical patterns of audacious curiosity and dogged determination have constituted the last two decades of this maze, I call my life. For an African girl who has been raised in deprivation of opportunities to dream big as well as bring her dreams to life, it is my pleasure to confidently say it is never about society but arduous nature of the person in you. This get-up-and-go has further driven me to ends many never thought I could stretch. Pursuing the Nursing profession has unbolted all doors to my career goals. My interest in Nursing research and teaching is growing untamable as well.  I enjoy watching soccer, teaching and singing is my most treasured hobby. Coming from a relatively smaller highly populated country (Uganda), my experience in Lusaka (Zambia) has been a totally different one. Being a large country with a relatively smaller population, I have met a number of very warm and welcoming people who are willing to spare time to teach us as well as make us feel at home. Despite the comparatively cold weather, Lusaka has been a wonderful discovery in my life. It has been wonderful experiencing a different culture while learning from another health care system as well as expanding my career network and professional aptitude.

Imelda standing with her colleagues

CICoM

Filed under: GEMx Student Ambassador Network

Aarinola Blessing

Post by Aarinola Blessing an outgoing 2 year termed SAN from  Obafemi Awolowo University College of Health Sciences participating in CICoM (International Medical Knowledge Contest).

Introduction

On 10th Nov. 2016, I embarked on an amazing and rewarding journey to Mexico City alongside five other undergraduates of my University and the Dean of my Faculty( our GEMx Manager). The trip took a whole week. We had earlier been invited to participate in the 3rd International Context of Medical Knowledge(CICoM 2016) organized by Facultad de Medicina of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico that had representatives from over thirty Universities all over the world in attendance. Countries represented included Netherlands, Colombia, Chile, Nigeria, and Mexico, meaning we were the only African nation invited for this competition.

This blog post will address different aspects of my trip to Mexico.

Aarinola Blessing with her two colleagues

Being in Mexico for the first time

We were cheerfully received at the Benito Juarez Airport by Angelica Lopez who drove us to Brenda’s house. Brenda(the Co-ordinator) and her sister were so excited to meet us and made our first night in Mexico memorable. We met Pablo Perea the next day who happened to be our tour guide and also a GEMx Student Ambassador. Pablo was a very friendly, interesting and versatile person. He obviously knew a lot about the history of his Country, an attribute of his I particularly found worthy of emulation and which no doubt greatly facilitated his role as a student Ambassador. We felt so much at home being in the company of homely people. Mexicans say” Mi casa es su casa meaning “my home is your home”. The language, of course, was intriguing to me. I taught Pablo a little of my native language, Yoruba like ”Padi mi” meaning “my guy” which he calls me anytime we chat and he also taught me some Spanish of course like “Hola”,”Buenos” and “Bien”. The rest were written on my notepad for reference in case I needed to speak Spanish during the trip. I indeed struggled with the food in Mexico being considerably new to my taste and suffice to say that Mexicans are proud of their famous tacos and can talk you into eating different servings of it with them while they also constantly keep asking what you think about it. I did try some dishes like the Mexican rice, chicken, and chips because they weren’t entirely new as other dishes in their cuisines. We would joke with them that they had cheese in every food like eating cheese in cheese. The worth of commendation is that the Mexico flag was almost everywhere we went to.

Shrimp dish with cheese

The Cultural Exchange

The first two days were set aside for cultural exchange during which we visited the Teotihuacan, the Palace of Medicine, Palace of Arts, the Downtown and the Latin American Tower. We were grouped into different groups which also afforded us the opportunity to interact with other students during the tour with Pablo as the tour guide of my group. On the 3rd day, Justin Seeling and Anna Iacone were around to talk about GEMx and I was opportune to meet them. Pablo and Fuen also made their wonderful presentations that same day.

 

The Competition

The competition was no doubt eye-opening for me, the other students from my University and our Dean. Even though our aim to win wasn’t fulfilled but we were fulfilled having attended because we planned to win the contest. We were exposed to what investigations some countries consider as the first line and different guidelines employed in treating patients. I found the interaction and brainstorming in the same room with students from different countries fun. While interacting with Benjamin from Chile, I got to know that Chagas disease which I had only read in textbooks without a full grasp of it was endemic in his Country. He took time to expatiate the details of the disease. I also lectured him on Malaria and its complications which is no doubt the most endemic illness in Nigeria and most of the remaining countries in the tropics. Also, we participated in different workshops during our stay. I participated in the basic surgical workshop where I was taught basic surgical skills, the use of which I employed during my first basic surgical skills class when I was back in Nigeria and of course I was faster than some of my colleagues because I had done it before. On the last day of the competition, we were dressed in our native attires. Everyone was so excited to see us in our outfits, that we almost got tired of taking pictures at some point. We also had souvenirs from other countries like the Dutch candies from the Netherlands and the Colombia coffee. We were also taken on a tour around the University where there was a story to tell about how each building was built. The party held after the event was of course fun during which I learned to do the Salsa dance.  It was largely an exciting outing that leaves so much to be remembered about.

Everyone in their cultural attire.

Our Departure

My group in the company of guys from the Netherlands with Pablo as our guide visited the National History Museum, Chapultepec on our departure day.  We finally took off from Mexico to start our 23-hour long trip back to Nigeria on the 19th Nov 2016.

 Conclusion

Attending CICoM 2016 was a major milestone for me in different areas of life with so many lessons gleaned from it. For instance, in terms of the exposure, knowledge of medicine, life, relationship with people, getting things done even when they look challenging and sharpening my leadership and communication skills. I will always treasure every moment and every friendship made.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience!

 

 

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