The impact that the Global Health and Innovation Conference (GHIC) has had on my learning experience could be discussed in much more than a page, as I learned so much throughout the two days. As a fourth year health promotion student, I feel confident in my knowledge of the health issues in the Western culture, and how to address them. However, attending the GHIC, I learned how complex and intricate health problems are in developing countries.
The overarching theme that I related my thoughts to, was the importance of dialogue. Although the conference was extremely widespread in the topics and expertise that were presented, discussion facilitated a deeper understanding of each issue. I learned that it is important to create dialogue within your community, with the population you are serving and with yourself. As a health promotion student it was always clear that community needs absolutely must be the foundation of any project, but I had seen it as a step in the process rather than a continuous conversation.
A valuable part of this communication was found through the “3 E’s”: Expose, Exchange, Educate. I had hoped to understand how to be more culturally competent through the GHIC and I feel that although this knowledge needs to be utilized to achieve a true understanding; I did learn a lot. Moving forward, I will be more critical about health promotion programs whether it be local or global. A speaker said that although you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, if that horse hasn’t seen water, it’s not going to know to drink it. This analogy had an impact on me as it really shows the importance of bringing health professionals from developing countries to developed countries to train them. I think so much of the mentality with global health is to travel and understand the needs of the population, but an important piece is the cultural exchange and sharing the technology and methods that our culture uses to support theirs.