Fourth Year students; Jaitra Sathyandran and Tsering Kalden were this year's co-chairs for the 2nd Annual Global Health Symposium held by Rotaract Western in support of Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex. Needless to say, with over 100 attendees on Sunday, January 25th, the event was deemed a success. HSSA had a chance to interview these two lovely ladies about the success of their event and see what future endeavors they are upto next!
What is the Global health symposium?
The Global Health Symposium is an interactive conference allowing students to effectively engage in discussions surrounding health issues and inequities in global and local contexts. Aligning with this year’s theme Health Among Marginalized Population, the conference featured 3 incredible keynote speakers. The aim of the conference was to motivate undergraduate students to use their education as a powerful tool to help others and to emphasize that global health is not restricted to the developing world, but that health-promoting initiatives can also have large benefits in our own backyard. It allowed students to apply knowledge learned in class by engaging in interactive conversations amongst their peers, where the dynamic and complex nature of health was emphasized.
Who does it benefit?
The event benefits anyone who has a common passion and interest in local and global health inequities. The event was open to all students at Western but we believe that the event was geared towards Health Science students. Since, the Faculty of Health Studies emphasizes health through a holistic perspective rather than a dichotomously defined construct endorsed by the biomedical model. As such, the Global Health Symposium aligned very well with the academic background of health science students. It provided an opportunity for students to engage in critical discussions and apply the theories learned in class. Furthermore, the symposium also provided an opportunity to network and an exposure to various professional opportunities in healthcare. Our end goal, was to allow students like us to become more aware and active to seek change in the emerging health issues.
What kind of speakers were there?
We had three different speakers who were well experienced and are currently doing extensive work in health among marginalized populations. Our three speakers were Dr. Arlene MacDougall, Dr. Lloy Wylie & Christina Marchand. Both Dr. MacDougall and Dr. Wylie are members of faculty in Schulich. Topics such as global mental health, Aboriginal, immigrant and refugee health and child and maternal health in Uganda were covered. Our last speaker, Christina Marchand is also an avid Rotarian which was quite fitting as the event was run under Rotaract Western. She touched upon how as students we have the power to instill change and make a difference.
Were the workshops taken in positive review?
The workshops were taken in positive review. What made this conference unique and probably the most enjoyable part of the event was the workshops. Since the workshops consisted of around 30 students, it was intimate enough for students to engage in open discussion, ask questions, debate and gain exposure to a variety of perspectives from peers. We tailored the workshops where students were asked thought-provoking questions to prompt critical thinking and form opinions.
What was the highlight of the day?
The highlight of the day was probably near the end of the event, during the networking session. We had the opportunity to interact with the participants and the representatives from numerous local organizations. Furthermore, it was really nice to receive positive feedback from our fellow students and other attendees. Our speakers were delighted by the continuous participation and genuine interest demonstrated by our audience during our breakout sessions. It was comforting to see students who attended the event out of genuine interest actually taking away from the event and reaching out to peers, speakers and organizations.
What are your next plans?
After graduation, we would like to work with marginalized populations on a local and international level.We both will be embarking on separate paths after graduation, but our common interests and goal lies in promoting social justice and health equity amongst all populations. Furthermore, a field of interest that is close to the both of us is mental health. In the next few years, we hope to gain more practical experience within these fields and continue to advocate for health. Ultimately, our main aspiration is to instill change and advocate for those who can’t be heard. Access to health is a right and it must be available to everyone.