BY MIKA NAGAMOTO
On the morning of our first day of class, everyone in our program met in the dining area of our hotel to enjoy breakfast together. I sat down to a breakfast of fresh fruit, mango juice, scrambled eggs, french toast, grilled sausage with vegetables, and a large cup of coffee. Our teaching assistants for the class met us in the lobby to show us the direction of the university. Brisk morning dew coated the streets as we made our 15-minute journey to the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, our new campus for the summer.
Our professors greeted us at the doors of the university before giving us an overview of the goals of their courses and the schedule for the next four weeks. Our first course would begin with an introduction to global health concepts, important themes of global health, a brief history of global health, and current strategies and actors in the field. The purpose of this course was to give us the context and language that would allow for a critical analysis of the global health interventions we would be seeing first-hand in Peru. The second course for the summer would focus on how diversity and disparities impact health in a global context. To create an in-depth and meaningful understanding of these topics, our group would also take visits to clinics in Lima and Iquitos. These excursions would allow us to apply what we learned in the classroom to the specific cases of health interventions in Peru.
While my professors explained their intentions for the class, I felt my excitement grow as I began to see how truly unique the opportunity before me was. I chose this program because I felt a need to see exactly what global health meant in action. Before my study abroad experience, I found that reading textbooks and learning about interventions in far-away places never satisfied my curiosity. I couldn’t ignore my desire to experience and see what I was learning about come to life in the real world. When I came across the Summer Travel Study Global Health Program, I immediately saw that this was my opportunity to gain unique and meaningful experiences in the field of global health. This was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.
Upon my arrival in Lima, I found that Peru far exceeded my expectations. Lima is rich with color, art, music, dancing, incredible food, and extensive opportunities to learn about the history and culture of this incredible country. I realized that this program was much more than just learning about global health. I was learning about a new culture, discovering new perspectives, and experiencing sights unique to the neighborhoods I was surrounded by. All of this gave breath and depth to the academic terms and themes I was learning about. Global health began to take on a new meaning for me as I conceptualized what it means to bring healthcare to individuals on a global scale.
Mika Nagamoto studied abroad in Lima and Iquitos, Peru, in summer 2018: https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalHealth-Lima/