When challenged by Dr. Ramsey-White to ponder the weekend in Lençóis and how everything that we experienced is related to the field of public health, a few of us were more than willing to share our thoughts. Personal health, open mindedness, and empowerment were among the answers that were given. Here is my take on the activities and how they impacted my learning and growth as a public health professional in training.
Climbing and/or descending the Morro do Pai Inacio mountains proved to be somewhat of a laboring or difficult task for some, including me. I don’t really have a fear of heights, but I was taken aback by the steepness of the mountain and the cumbersome task of trying not to slip or fall while stepping from rock to rock. But, I must say that this struggle was definitely worth while after reaching the top and being able to view the beauty that mother nature has done a good job of perfecting.
The Gruta da Lapa cave proved to be another mental and/or physical challenge for some. The mere thought of exploring the realm of a place that sits so many feet below a surface is a tad bit frightening to me (only because I have seen way to many movies about people getting lost, attacked, and crushed in caves), but like climbing Morro do Pai Inacio mountains, the day before, we all met with and accomplished the task that was set before us.
The experience at at Graos de Luze Grio was interesting to me. I did not expect it be as educational and fulfilling as it was. The project/mission that Marcio and his group are working on sounds like it is full of dedication towards the enhancement of the community’s health and educational practices. I really appreciated the stories about his ancestry, as well as, the songs that we learned and their importance to the culture and his life. This experience provided an opportunity for everyone to search themselves and to meditate on and really take in the beauty of everything that life, past experiences, and present being (especially this trip) has to offer.
Returning to Dr. Ramsey-White’s question about the relationship between the experiences in Lençóis and field of public health, the answer lies in a closer look at one’s self and things that are important for sustaining mental, emotional and psychological well being– once again, personal health, open-mindedness, and empowerment.
- First, it is imperative that we find the time and energy to take care of ourselves emotionally and psychologically. If we do not take the ample time to reflect on where we have been or what we have been through, heal from the things that have may have hurt us or dwell on the things that we have learned, we will never truly be of sound mind, and furthermore, our service and help towards others (the community) will not be at it’s full potential (in order to successfully take care of others, you must take care of yourself first).
- Second, being open to trying and learning new things is very significant to the field of public health. When dealing with masses of people, being able to communicate with, relate to and understand people of all backgrounds, colors, customs, and opinions is inevitable. It is often hard to look beyond the people and customs with which we are most comfortable, but we must challenge ourselves to learn and/or gain perspectives on a variety things, people and places to be able to better reach the public and; furthermore, promote health.
- Lastly, to be empowered is a free and wonderful feeling. This weekend, it took true courage and a feeling of empowerment for some to expend their energy and/or let go of their fears to conquer climbing the mountain or exploring the cave. You can also empower others by serving as a means of encouragment through your own experiences or lessons that you teach. As public health professionals, it will be our duty to empower people to take charge of their own emotional, psychological, and physical health. Perhaps, one of the best ways to do this is to be a living example of what it means to take your health seriously, do all that you can to maintain your well-being, and not be afraid to seek knowledge and/or help when necessary. If we, ourselves, feel empowered to take control of our lives, it can serve as a major influence for our family, friends, and community.
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson