MPH Panama Practicum 2013: PAN-uh-mah

Roxanna Seyedin

July 12, 2013

Hello readers!

Now that we’re settled in, acclimated to the humidity, and covered from head to toe in DEET, I thought it would be an appropriate time to reflect on what the group has done in the past few days.

Day 1 began with a presentation by Dr. Arlene Calvo, who painted a picture of the historical, political and socioeconomic factors that impact research and the health status of Panamanians. The lecture was given at Santo Tomas, a public hospital built in the early 1920s. Of notable significance were the industrial changes that occurred following the construction of the Panama Canal and the power of William Gorgas to halt the construction of it for one year in order to control the spread of disease.

The Panama Canal

As everyone has mentioned, it was baffling to see a skyscraper on one end of the horizon and sewage runs, rotting buildings, on the opposite end of the city. It is extremely depressing to see a once blossoming city with large foreign investment, eye-catching glamorous infrastructure, allowing their citizens to live under these conditions.

On a more positive note and to reiterate Dr. Richardson?s statement, the health professionals seemed to be extremely optimistic about their capacity to make change and continue to be leaders in vaccine development, logistics, and modern communication services.

We also visited the Altos de Cabuya school, where our group will be working the next few days. The strong relationship that USC has established with the school was clearly evident when we were greeted with warm smiles and hugs.

After meeting with the principal of the school, she expressed great concern over a newly occurring bullying problem. With this in mind, we decided to focus out efforts around the theme of ?tolerancia.? The students will participate in a contest, centered on the theme of ?treat others how you wish to be treated? where they will express what the word means to them by decorating a poster to be hung on every classroom door.

As far as nutrition goes, we decided to create an interactive slideshow, matching each fruit or vegetable to a superhero- this way it sticks in their head. We even decided to have Adriana in our presentation, making her feature debut as Adriana Alcachofa!

I?ve always enjoyed working with kids, and I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to improve my Spanish, while delivering something of importance to these childrens? lives. Keep your eyes glued to the screen for updates on entertaining and unique interactions at la escuelita!

About the MPH Panama Practicum

A group of University of Southern California graduate students are researching public health in Panama City, Panama, for a two-week international practicum, organized by the USC Master of Public Health (MPH) program. This post was excerpted from panama.usc.eduView all posts in this series »