Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.


Posted by chads on July 24, 2010

Another blog post from Carter Newey, a BYU student studying abroad in Mexico

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you’re all able to celebrate Independence Day in some way wherever you are, even though no one else around is. Reflecting on our country on its birthday, especially while living in Mexico makes me appreciate the things I often take for granted back home. Life here is so different but at the same time it’s easy to find similarities. It’s quite a contrast living in a rural village with nominal living standards 5 days a week and then coming back into the city of Irapuato on the weekends and find things like ritzy malls and American movies. I noticed some more of this American influence while in Guadalajara for our mid-semester retreat. I find it fascinating the way cultures can blend together in certain ways I never would have thought of before if I hadn’t been doing this field studies experience.
My second month here has good overall in terms of getting some of my coursework done and building relationships with people, but really slow in other ways such as getting my project going. I’ll touch on each of these things briefly.
There have been so many cool cultural experiences I’ve been able to be a part of. I’ve been to several parties (some of which lasted literally all day long!), school graduations, making tortillas, washing clothes for 3-4 hours by the river, playing basketball against very talented middle school kids, and watching the world cup games with fans dressed in their green Mexico soccer jerseys. I’ve also had a chance to teach several people guitar and English on a regular basis and it has been so much fun! I love being able to say and feel that I’m friends with these people as I’m building relationships with them. I just wish there was an easy way to keep in touch after I leave.
As far as the work is concerned, I had to wait a lot longer than I had hoped before getting IRB approval to get my project going. Only being able to use the internet on the weekends made the process even slower, and after getting everything all set up I’ve only just started my interviews, even though I’ve been here 2 months already. I was expecting to get going on interviews by the second week in Mexico so I definitely have had to adjust to that change in expectations. The couple interviews I’ve done so far have been successful and I have already learned so much as far as the health system in Mexico is concerned. From my own observations volunteering in the health center, along with what people have told me, healthcare here in the villages has improved a lot over the years but still has a lot of problems and isn’t where it should be. Until I feel like my results are conclusive I won’t talk much about them until probably next month’s blog, but I’ll just say it’s been interesting being aware of some of these issues and how it affects the lives of the people. I can’t wait to see what more locals have to say about it and what more I can learn the rest of my time here.
In the meantime, I’ve been doing a lot of coursework. My favorite things to do are the cultural proof activities (the writing part of it isn’t quite as fun). I’ve done all kinds of things from watching a pig get slaughtered for a little girl’s birthday party to picking up the handicraft of sewing cloths with flowers on them (sirvilletas) to wrap tortillas in. Sewing, cooking, and washing may be a woman’s job but I’ll tell you what. As far as I can tell, nobody challenges gender roles more than I do in the village. I figure it’s ok though since being one of the few white guys within hundreds of miles makes me weird automatically anyway. I find the extra attention and strange looks hilarious. I hope everything is going well for you wherever you’re at and that you will continually seek out cultural experiences. They can be a lot of fun!

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

BYU Student in Jamkhed

Posted by chads on July 1, 2010

Bryce Johnson, a BYU premed student is spending this month learning about community-based primary health care in Jamkhed, India, from a highly successful (almost legendary) health program in rural, impoverished India. Read his entertaining and informative blog here.

Posted in Links, NGOs, Opportunities | 2 Comments »


Posted by chads on June 18, 2010

Carter is a BYU student doing field studies in Mexico

For those of you who don’t know much about where our Field Studies group is at and what the area is like, let me paint you a brief picture. We’re in central Mexico in the state of Guanajuato about an hour away from Irapuato, which is the closest big city to the ranchos of Santa Rosa, El Encino, La Estancia, Comederito, and others. Matt and I are living with Martin and Martina and their large, extended family while Natalie and Adrianne are living with a host family in El Encino (25 min. walk from Santa Rosa). It is hot, dry, and dusty most of the day with cactuses, hills, and dirt roads. Goats, sheep, donkeys, horses, chickens, and dogs are all over the place and fill the clear night sky with their cries every day and often during the night. People here are very friendly, open to long conversations, and often willing to feed you what they have. They are happy, humble people, even though they have different standards of living than what we are used to. Also, pretty much everyone here is Catholic, which is often manifested in their fiestas and Virgin Mary pictures everywhere.

I can’t believe it’s been a month since coming here when I think about all the experiences I’ve already had and the realization that I’m 1/3rd of the way done and these next 2 months will fly by quick. The initial transition was definitely the most difficult to handle but this was something I anticipated from the first time I learned what field studies was all about and what life would be like here in Santa Rosa. I had this mental image of the village I would always look at in my head while trying to think of how my project would carry out here and what kinds of people or lifestyle changes I would be experiencing.

Now that I’m here I can say that my mental schema of Santa Rosa is actually pretty similar to what I imagined it would be like. I figured I would be living in a cement house without A/C, a water system based on buckets, barrels, and drinking water from a filter or bottle. I knew tortillas would become the new staple food in my diet and that life here would be pretty simple, unstructured, and friendly. Interestingly, even though these were things I expected, each one was something I had to get used to as my new life was adapting to life in rural Mexico.

I’m learning things about myself and others, including the fact that I’m more tolerant of hygienic, bug, or cleanliness issues that come naturally with the new environment. I’m learning the importance of building relationships with people and how they are formed in comparison to what I have been used to my whole life. Here, relationships are often built over a longer period of time than I’m used to. Reciprocity is shown through food and time spent with the family rather than just money. Peoples’ perception of time here is different as well. P-time seems to dominate everything, from a person’s daily life to government-run institutions like the health center or the school system. This is definitely hard for me to get used to, as I look at almost everything having a schedule and that I constantly need to be productive in what I’m doing. I’m learning to change my perspective to correlate better with theirs every day I’m living here, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

As far as my project is going, I’m still waiting for approval from IRB and am in the process of making the necessary changes. Still, I’m moving forward with what I can, building rapport with people as well as working on my other coursework. Since my project is looking into choices and barriers people face in regards to their healthcare, I have established a relationship with the health center and am observing how healthcare is run in Mexico on a localized, rural level. I’m hoping to be able to start interviewing people soon to be able to get to the meat of my project and find out what their perceptions on healthcare are. I imagine carrying out my project will be an interesting yet challenging experience as time goes on.

Overall, I am enjoying my time here in Santa Rosa. Life here is so different and I’m getting used to it the more I’m here. I have found things I like about the culture and also things I don’t like as much, but am trying to adapt the best I can and learn as much as possible with the short time I have left. I hope you are all having great experiences wherever you may be and are soaking in every moment of your time in your respective field. Take care everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Healthy Mothers, Strong World: The Next Generation of Ideas for Maternal Health Competition

Posted by chads on March 5, 2010

Only 11 days left to enter this competition: http://www.changemakers.com/maternalhealth

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

2 Annoucements

Posted by chads on February 26, 2010

First, informal, come and go as you’d like get together tonight at my house (I know, I know: late announcement!). Email me for details; include your phone number (soon!): unacceptableglobalhealth (at) gmail (dot) com

Second, the annual BYU Hunger banquet is March 4 and 6. See this website for details: http://kennedy.byu.edu/student/sid/hunger/. I’ve been 3 years in a row, and think it’s a great event: humbling and motivating and entertaining.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Personal Update

Posted by chads on October 3, 2009

Due to time constraints, I will not likely be blogging here frequently in the future. I will, however, continue blogging at this health systems strengthening blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Presentation on Global Health Motives and Myths

Posted by chads on September 22, 2009

I will be give a brief 30 min presentation on Global Health for the BYU Public Health Club tomorrow at 7pm in room 271 of the Richards Building.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Perspective: BYU’s MPH Program

Posted by ryanlindsay on July 4, 2009

Two months ago I finished the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Brigham Young University (BYU). This is a reflection on the general aspects of the program that hopefully will help those wanting personal perspective on the program or those considering affiliating with the MPH program, as a student or partner.

BYU’s MPH program just accepted its 8th cohort of students and received continuing accreditation from CEPH; it is hardly a new program anymore. The way I see it, the future of public health at BYU is bright but growth will be slow. I am very satisfied with the education that I received at BYU as a student. Here is my take on the program (and since I’ve finished I can say whatever I want right?)…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Global Health, monitoring and evaluation, Practical Advice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Health Systems get-together, and HSIA sign-on activated

Posted by chads on July 3, 2009

2 brief announcements:

1. The call to action for Health Systems Impact Assessments was published today in the Lancet. -Consider Signing onto the call here.

2. On July 8, at 5pm, we will have an informal meeting at my house to discuss “Transforming Health Systems.” All are invited. Drs. Henry Mosley (Johns Hopkins), and Kirk Dearden (Boston University) will be joining us. Respond to this email for directions and questions: ghsias@gmail.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

Research Assistant and Volunteer Opportunities

Posted by chads on May 16, 2009

See here for details.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »