Anoush and her friend harvested and shared mulberries with a few of our PharmD University of Utah students. Tina best sums up how they taste.
Today was the best experience I have had so far in Armenia. We started off the day strong in the classroom finishing up our presentation and clearing up the interpretations with the translator.I enjoyed the presentations on nutrition, epidemiology, and demographic relating to Armenia. Once we were done today, we went downtown to the square area and found a nice Italian style café to have lunch at. I had the pleasure of translating for everyone and asking different questions from the menu to our server. Although some parts were tough, I did better then I thought and ordered correctly for everyone. Once we arrived at the museum, I immediately became obsessed with the rich, sad, and strong history and culture of the Armenian people. The first room I walked into, which was one of the most significant ones, was the displaced families and villages of Armenia from 1915. This room really brought out deep my roots. Looking at the before and after population of each village around 1915, brought attention to how bad the genocide affected the overall population of Armenia and the people. Walking through the museum brought the pictures to the stories I heard growing up, of rich Armenian tradition, which was never lost. I loved gathering a historical view of my family’s history and the sacrifices they made to survive throughout the many years. Today was a very memorable day for me, which allowed me to get in touch with my history for the first time in my life. Very thankful to my elders and grandparents for being able to make the necessary moves to keep the legacy going for another several generations.
The most important reasons that I initially decided to join the Global Health in Armenia program were an opportunity to build my personal capacity as a healthcare professional and unique cultural experiences in a country that I have never been to. Growing up in another country before coming to the U.S., I have always been interested in the differences in the culture, the health system, as well as public health issues between the two countries. The meaning of “building personal capacity” to me, therefore, not only includes essential professional and research skills as a pharmacy student, but also entails growing a skillset and being exposed to an experience that I can may one day use to provide a similar service for my home country, Taiwan. I believe that traveling and experiencing a foreign culture not only enrich one’s life in a beautiful way, but also provide inspirations and deeper understandings about oneself and one’s own values. I found this particular true when I arrived at this country and each challenges and surprises just gave me new revelations and understandings about my capability and limitations.
I have also been contemplating about the purpose of global health, the reason of traveling half way across the globe to another country and conduct services. In the end, I concluded that the essence of service is the same everywhere. Challenges in helping a non-English speaking diabetic patient in Navajo reservation may be surprisingly similar to that of a patient in rural Armenia. However, sometimes unexpected opportunities present themselves in the most interesting way, such as our Armenia Global Health program. Sometimes, it takes a change of setting, a dramatic “culture shock”, and that process of adaptation to create a humble mindset to accept and appreciate the cultural differences, no matter where people are from. In fact, I found it the most interesting to observe the culture and the interactions between the Armenian people on the street and in the markets; the obvious and subtle differences and similarities from cultures that I am familiar with, both American and Taiwanese, were both entertaining and inspiring. In a way, it motivates me to discover more about and sympathize with the people of Armenia. In the end, I found that to be the most critical and core characteristic to be a healthcare professional: to have human sympathy and a humble attitude equally regardless of whom you are serving.
In conclusion, I find this program to be a unique opportunity to learn, to explore, and to serve in an amazing country with colorful history and people. With a mindset of making this an experience of a lifetime, I plan to work and play to the fullest in the next three weeks!
In life there are many important questions that pave the road to discovering the type of person that you are, and who it is that you may become. Some of those questions are related to your intake, such as:
Do you like mineral water or pear-flavored fizzy Georgian beverages? Is adulterating your favorite food (pizza) with Ketchup acceptable when you are only hours away from feasting on meat wrapped in assorted styles of leaves? Can I absorb enough of the language and customs so that I don’t feel like a toddler in an adult man’s body? Will I absorb too much of the local food and feel like an adult man trapped in a toddler’s chubby body?
Other questions are related to your output, such as: Am I giving my fair share in support of food and items to the household? Am I portraying a favorable image of my nation and my personal beliefs, not only to the Armenians, but to my fellow classmates? Am I really offering the best of my talents and abilities, or am I simply doing what is asked of me, and explaining the margin between the two states of action as lack of opportunity?
Finally, some questions are considerably more complicated, less black and white, and more meaningful, such as:
Do you have to be the center of attention or can you be satisfied making others feel like they are they important? When I leave Armenia, will I have contributed something lasting to the people I see on the streets, or will I amount to little more than a extended-stay tourist? What is the real meaning of the pomegranate?
Today, I took constructed a few feet of my pathway with inspiration from the ornate Armenia walkways. I also took a few steps along that pathway to discover what lies ahead and how I can reach that point. Some of those questions are still unanswered. However, I can honestly say that I laughed more today than I have in a long time, made new friends, tried new foods, gained perspective, and challenged myself to do better tomorrow than I did today. Though I still can’t see where that path ends or the person I will be when I arrive there, today, I simply do not want it to end, or at least hope that I can find a way to make it continue in my heart when I leave this special place.