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My experiences in South Africa this summer were formative in my leadership, teamwork, and research skills. I gained a wealth of knowledge about how to conduct a research project from start to finish (Institutional Review Board, grant applications, publications, and all). Not only that, but I was privileged to learn from the people and history of South Africa -- a country paradigmatic of the hope for reconciliation in the most broken of societies. It was a humbling experience that I will look back upon with fondness for many years.
The University of Virginia's Center for Global Health promotes health in resource-limited settings by fostering the commitment of students, faculty and partners from many disciplines to address the diseases of poverty.
This was taken in Majosi, a rural town in South Africa. One of our research partners was raised in Majosi, and her family invited us to visit their town one of our last weekends in South Africa. They made us feel incredibly welcome, whether it was trying to speak English with us or offering us the toys they had made by hand or fruits grown in their backyards. It was an incredible experience to meet one of the families of our partners and get to be in a deeper, more intimate setting with her. Seeing her interact with her family and their excitement to meet us was so touching. One photo is of her neighbors, who drive around their donkey cart when they're bored (according to our partner).
This was a picture I took after returning from a local market with my Spanish teacher. I spent two weeks at the Celas Maya Spanish school in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala before starting my research, and I had the privilege of having a wonderful Mayan teacher named Loyola. Among many topics, she taught me about Mayan medicine and natural remedies they like to use. The bunch in the picture is menta, pericón, and manzanilla (mint, marigold, and chamomile), and it is set on top of a tablecloth decorated with a typical Mayan pattern. My teacher taught me that these plants are used to ease symptom caused by digestive issues by first drying them in the shade for a few days, and then using them in boiling water to make a tea. I think this picture is a representation of the harmony, balance, and respect found between the environment and the Mayan people. They honor and respect nature, and in return nature provides for them in the form of medicine, nutrition, shelter, etc. Living in harmony with nature means living in good health.