By Alexis Daniel
Alexis, Timmy’s Fundraising & Marketing Intern and a soon-to-be Junior at Indiana University, is different from a lot of her fellow IU Timmy chapter members. Unlike many of her peers, she’s not studying biology or chemistry, she’s not pre-med, and she’s not planning to work directly in a healthcare field after graduation. Nevertheless, she was actively involved in her chapter for the past year, and even traveled with the IU team on a medical trip to Guatemala in March. This post highlights how powerful that experience can be—even for students that don’t have any intention to work in medicine.
I was a bit apprehensive as I embarked on my first journey abroad with Timmy Global Health. Yes, I could fundraise with the best of them. Need someone to work a sign-up table? I’m your girl. But what purpose could a student with minimal aspirations to become a medical professional serve in a clinic.
Our week in Xela, Guatemala began with a cultural lesson from the director of Pop Wuj, our partner clinic. Despite many of us facing fatigue from the long journey into the elevated city, Roney (Medical Director at Pop Wuj) managed to engage our minds and widen our eyes to the health disparities that citizens of Xela faced. We were asked to look deeper into the circumstances that surrounded the patients with whom we would come into contact. He spoke of the historical, political, and social standings that were imbedded into their lives and inhibited them from proper medical care. He dared us to ask why. Why were we there? Why did we feel the need to be there? Why were these citizens in a state where outside help from groups like Timmy was required?
And that’s when I learned that the term ‘global health’ encompasses much more than medicine.
I carried this conversation with me for the rest of the week as I ran with kids, filled prescriptions, and observed doctors in clinic. I began to realize that there was much, much more to these drastic health disparities than simply healthcare. There was history and economy and culture. At this point, I began to see the necessity for a multitude of professions to combat global health, and a role for myself in fighting health disparities became a bit clearer.
We took these thoughts home with us, and our chapter hopes to expand the number of perspectives currently present in our global health conversations in the year to come. We need teachers, social workers, marketers, politicians, everyone and anyone.
There was a point in time where I would have never thought about getting involved with a global health cause as a Liberal Arts student, having subconsciously signed the agreement that global health clubs were for people who wanted to be doctors. After one school year with IU’s chapter of Timmy Global Health and two weeks as a Timmy intern, I undoubtedly realize that I was mistaken. Our doctors are beyond important and I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such caring and passionate pre-med students. But I would love to see more perspectives join our chapter next year, to contribute what we lack: Business students to take our marketing goals and run with them, artists to help express our stories, maybe even a fellow policy nerd or two to study the political situations surrounding the communities that we serve. It takes all of us – all of our talents, thoughts, and time to tackle a problem as wide as global health equity.
“We were not all born to be doctors and nurses, but we were all born to be healers.” Dr. Chuck said it best.