Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The End is Bitter-Sweet

As someone is on the outside looking in, it was jaw dropping to see the amount that the social work students  have changed from the first days until the last week of instruction.

The last week of the CGE program was a blend between appreciation for the gifts of Mexico, excitement for the warmth of home, and sadness in leaving the bonds that have been created south of the border. As part of the staff here at CGE, I was most excited to see the social work students´ final projects because the projects demonstrate not only what the students have learned, but what has touched their lives the most through their experience here.  I was truly moved to see the way that the students were affected here.

Two of the social work students, Emily and Kayla, performed spoken word pieces that brought everyone to tears. Emily Uecker performed a piece on sexism and women´s empowerment in Mexico that touched on multiple issues that affect women including machismo, cat calling, empowerment through the household, barriers to education, and sexual violence. Emily masterfully used language to give voice to all of the speakers who taught us about gender and sexuality and she also recognized the women that spoke to her everyday at home. Kayla Wolff also performed an impressive spoken word piece about immigration and the perception Americans have on those who move to America from Mexico. Her piece was jam-packed with historical information about US-Mexico relations, personal experiences that have touched her, and gut emotions that she feels in seeing the way Americans treat those from Mexico. Laura Aguas and Amy Amsler similarly gave presentations from the heart, speaking about the range of emotions that they experienced while studying here for months, which they accompanied with art pieces that materialized what they learned. Laura Holdrege and Katie Lovrien created informative PowerPoints about social work in Mexico and the US that will be used to educate social work students in the future. The whole room was left feeling a stir of emotions as we all connected with the student´s  words and their experiences.
( CGE students before a staff appreciation dinner in the final weeks of class)

As a final wrap up activity, all the students conducted their final lab group exercises  and enjoyed a goodbye barbeque at the house of Ann, the program director. The group shared what they thought reverse culture shock would be like, giving each other tips about how to handle certain sticky situations. We also wrote down positive things about each other as a group which put a smile on everyone´s face . The students enjoyed their final moments as a group sharing ideas, savoring good food, and even holding a water fight. As someone who interacts with the students in a more administrative sense, to see the intellectual and personal change from the beginning to their final projects was inspiring. I feel honored to have a been a part of the social workers´ journey of learning and I wish them all a life full of new experiences that can allow them to continue to be life-long  learners. 
(The whole CGE crew)

-Amaris Montes, CGE Volunteer

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Complexities of Health Care

                A few weeks ago, we received a speaker from the National Institute of Public Health.  This institute exists on both a state and federal level in Mexico. Their mission is to provide information to the public so they are able to make better health decisions.  To work toward this mission the National Institute of Public Health works in schools, with women and children, as well as doing community work.
    One topic Sandra spoke about that was very interesting to me was the complexity of the health care system in Mexico. I was able to see this complexity reflected when we visited Amatlan earlier in the semester.  This rural area often does not have doctors on site and patients must travel a long distance during a medical emergency. Also, the doctors that are present in this community may be lacking in culturally competency which is important when working with this community . Another piece of the Mexican health care system that I believe greatly impacts this community is the use of natural medicine. Although alternative and traditional types of medicine are widely used, especially in communities like Amatlan, they are not covered by health insurance.
                What I also found interesting was to learn about the different levels of care that impact access to medical services. Many people who work in the informal economy here in México cannot receive medical attention because they lack even the most basic form of medical insurance provided by the government,  Seguro Popular.  I believe this relates to Amatlan, because there are many people who live off the informal economy there.  However, there is health care for individuals who work within the formal sector such as IMSS, ISSS and IEST. This type of insurance gives these individuals better access to health services such as doctors and hospitals.
                I have learned many things about the National Institute of Public Health and access to health care throughout this semester. I was able to reflect upon the many issues that affect rural Mexico. Also, I was able to reflect upon the different levels of medical care that are in Mexico, and how this medical care is different for people who work in the informal and informal economy.

Do you believe there are differences between the healthcare provided within rural areas and urban areas in the United States? If so what are they? How do you think they affect people who live in these areas?

Alyssa Biddle (student)