What a day! Today after our small classroom session we had the great privilege of visiting the Armenian Genocide Memorial. I thought I knew most of the history behind the genocide, but was surprised when I learned even more. The memorial site was unbelievable. The fire burning in the middle was bittersweet tome. The fire to me reminded me of the sacrifice, pain, and suffering my grandparents along with millions of Armenians had to go through to protect their belief. The journey of the Armenian people has always been shadowed by heartache and struggle for centuries. The genocide was the most recent showing of fighting for your beliefs, even when it costs the ultimate price. The fire also reminded me of the everlasting burn within the Armenian people to overcome any challenge or obstacle that may be put in our way. People will always try to smother the brightest flame,but no one will ever be able to put it out. The trees of support from different countries and foundations reinforced the support I thought Armenians to have throughout the world.Once we left the memorial site, our next stop was the monastery of St.Gregory the Illuminator. I was able to go down about 25 feet into the small pit,where stories tell of the imprisonment of St. Gregory. This was truly an amazing experience. I was finally able to see Mt Ararat up close. I had always seen the mountain in pictures growing up, but finally got to experience it in real life. I took many pictures so hopefully I can re-live this moment many times over again
Eric, Brooke, and Diane show us how global health in Armenia makes you want to dance!
On June 4, 2014 we traveled to Aragatsotn Marz, Armenia, and were able to conduct research and health outreach at the Nerkin Bazmaberd Ambulatory. We were joined by the Armenian-American Wellness Center, and they conducted cancer and thyroid screenings, as well as provided pap-smears. It was an amazing outing, with great community support!
I was very pleased with what we accomplished today, especially that it was in such a small village. Having the Armenian American Wellness Center present was a great addition and made it all possible. It was great to see that some of our past work has made an impact with regard to the fliers that they used from us. I heard that the presentations went well, and I was happy to see that we had a decent audience for the cardiovascular disease presentation, I was worried that no one was going to come for it.
I couldn’t be happier with the health fair today. The women were so receptive and eager to participate. Many women waited in a long line for free screening, which filled me with joy. One of the patients named Isabella wanted to set me up with her son who happened to be the same age as I. So, I really felt as though I was able to make a personal connection, as well as, a professional connection. The providers of the clinic kept whisking me away for coffee and treats, even though I kept telling them no. One of the interpreters said it best, “You can’t help but feel good when you are making a difference in someone’s life.”
I enjoyed working with this more rural population. The patients and
providers all seemed very receptive to and appreciative of our teaching. Many of the patients were very warm, and there were a few memorable interactions. I’d like to reflect on one of these.
About half way through the day, an elderly gentleman limped slowly into our
blood pressure screening and education room. He had previously been diagnosed
with hypertension and diabetes. His blood pressure was 160/100 on my check, and he reported that he had taken his medication in the morning. I discussed all of the
risk factors for hypertension with him and encouraged him to make healthy lifestyle
changes. As I went through the recommendations step-by-step (reduce salt, eat a
healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meats and saturated fats,
get routine physical activity, manage weight, reduce alcohol consumption) he
nodded in agreement and assured me he had already made all of these changes.
However, when I reached my final recommendation—to quit smoking—he stopped
me and informed me he simply could not quit. He stated that everything good had
already been taken from him, and that he didn’t have too many years left anyway.
This made me think about just how hard it is to quit smoking, and how although this
is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, it can
also be one of the most difficult lifestyle changes to make.
Today brought our group back to the drawing board. It was quite instructive to consider the triumphs and struggles we had yesterday. Although there were some speed bumps and unexpected challenges, I believe our group showed resolve and determination. However, it was helpful to investigate the improvements that are needed in order for us to be successful. Though the first battle may have been won, the same tactics may not be successful in the next location. We have to keep improving and developing so that we can be prepared for whatever comes our way.
The trip to the manuscript repository reinforced my expanding understanding of the rich heritage that is the foundation of Armenian identity and culture. I was grateful to see such beautifully preserved masterpieces.
The trip to Grand Candy brought me back to my childhood. It was like a circus inside of a candy store inside of a dream. I partook of amazing Ponchik with enough powdered sugar to break the blood glucose monitors. I then purchased a bunch of candy, on the faith of a good recommendation and had my honor defended against a lady trying to cut in line in front of me. Thanks, Dr. Wright.
The night was concluded with some survey corrections, amazing home-cooked food (we could probably open a restaurant with all of the hardcore chef skills group members are busting out on this trip). We had some good laughs discussing absurd childhood games and building a human pyramid. Our stay here is half over, but I can’t see how it can get better. Cheers to my comrades for making my life a little bit brighter.
There was electricity in the air as we all prepared ourselves this morning. The day for the big show had arrived. We were all running through literal and figurative checklists to make sure we had all of the equipment and handouts we would needed. A cocktail of anxiety and excitement populated my conversation and thoughts. Months of preparation and careful planning had all lead to this point and it was likely this would set the tone for our other outreach sites.
The clinic certainly felt quite spartan – bare stone and mortar. The site of the fair was a simple drive-way of aging asphalt. The presentations took place in what felt like a forgotten basement corridor. When we arrived, it was as if the health fair organically arose from nothing. Within moments their were desks with table-toppers, balloons, screening materials, surveys, handouts, and smiling faces[…]
I was proud of the screening teams and the efficiency with which they managed the crowds of eager participants. They did a great job talking to patients and providing them materials and recommendations in order to make good changes in their lives.
Later, in the evening, some of us went to a Georgian restaurant. The restaurant was below street level and had incredible interior design. It felt like the kind of place that a mobster would spend time – ornate woodwork, beautiful carvings, and artwork. Many of us experienced Khinkali for the first time and loved it. It also felt a little bit more legitimate to drink Georgian Lemonade in a Georgian restaurant[…]