A GlobeMed Summer: Insights from Leah

 

Our internal co-president Leah Paz (above, far right) spent her summer as an intern for the GlobeMed national office and brought back some wisdom and stories to LA and the blogosphere. We can’t get wait to get this year started and on a roll, and we’ll leave you for now with some thoughts from Leah about summer and solidarity.

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The importance of HUMAN RELATIONS is something that I now find myself constantly thinking about. Partly because I’ve had the chance to develop some of the most extraordinary ones. Partly because I’m learning more and more about myself, my passions, and my goals. For me, human relations keep me going, they make me happy, and as I’m realizing they will also be what drives success.

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to be an intern at the GlobeMed National Office at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. This was a chance for myself and a few other chapter level members to spend time working with the 5 members of full time staff, as well as a few student staff members, to really push forward developments for this organization towards achieving the goals of building a movement for global health equity through partnering university students with grassroots organizations. Sounds really legit, right? That’s because it is! 50 chapters across the country work side by side to ensure that their members are gaining the skills and understanding to become leaders in global health and that the projects they’re developing with their partner organizations will have a sustainable and long-lasting impact for those communities.

Now what does all of this mean for me – what did I do all summer, and what am I coming away from this summer with? A LOT. It’s actually slightly overwhelming, in the gushing-with-excitement kind of way. At work I had the responsibilities of compiling all 45 chapters’ annual reports and making them publish ready, I also handled all of the logistics behind the Leadership Institute for the co-presidents from all the chapters. I learned a lot about the ins and outs of running a non-profit organization, I gained some good technical and planning skills, and it helped me in better understanding what it is that I am passionate about, and also why. I also did form amazing bonds with the people that I worked with this summer; those elusive National Office staff members are far less elusive and I consider them close friends, as well as the other interns from 3 other chapters who I worked and lived with, several National Office student-staff who I feel lucky to have had the chance to get to know, and also my co-president Caroline, this was such an amazing opportunity for Caroline and I to get to know each other on a roommate/co-worker/Illinois-traveling buddy way that most co-presidents do not have the chance to do. I am thrilled to be able to bring everything from this summer (the internship and the Leadership Institute) back to my chapter at UCLA so that I can work towards becoming the best Internal Co-President possible!

I came into this internship beyond excited to live in a new place, learn more about GlobeMed, but also to get to know these somewhat elusive people known as the National Office. My knowledge of them beforehand, while scarce, was that they were awesome people and I knew they were people I wanted to become friends with but also learn from. Over time I began to understand more about the workings of GlobeMed, and how the model of partnership is in every part of it – not just between chapters and our partner organizations. Chapters are in a partnership with the National Office, Co-Presidents are in a partnership with our Program Director, Executive Boards are in a partnership with our staff members, etc.

Thanks to the beautiful and inspiring words of the Executive Director Maya Cohen at the Leadership Institute this metaphor came into my mind, and now it is definitely stuck there. Each of these parts of the essential partnerships is a unit, they are units of a movement. And each unit needs to understand where the other units are or else the movement will not be able to move forward cohesively. The whole network needs to have an understanding of where they are now, as well as where they want to be in the future. What is the goal?! However big or small, the goal must be known in order to plan the steps to reach it, as units of a movement, together. Human relations link these units, they are the glue of the movement. And many of these human relations are formed by impresarios, a term brought to our knowledge by a lovely student staff member, Anne Jaconette. An impresario basically connects people who need resources to people who have them. Sounds just like what GlobeMed as a whole does! But GlobeMed also builds leaders out of the members. And this impresario quality is something that we each realized we had, without knowing we had it. In the GlobeMed timeline of an individual there is the moment you realize you love GlobeMed, and there is the moment you realize you are in impresario which usually takes place when you watch people you’ve guided realize that they, too, love GlobeMed. These are those incomparable human relationships that GlobeMed influences. And this glue in the network is what is going to take us from here to there.

The here to there part is tricky. We can all have big ideas for where we want to see GlobeMed grow to in the next few years – have our model expand to different organizations, different fields, different countries. But what are those steps along the way to get us there? That is where SYSTEMS come in. Another thing that I’m learning is the fundamental base to practically everything. Bad systems mean bad things, and good systems mean good things. As simple as that may sound, it needs to be drilled into peoples’ heads so that they can truly understand the importance in knocking out “bad systems” and implementing good ones. Bad systems lend themselves to inequality, lack of access to necessary resources, and no understanding as to how to seize opportunities and change their place in these “bad systems.” Working to change these faulty systems that are in place is something that I want to spend some time looking deeper into, how can I work with others to make changes in systems that are the root of problems for people affected by the factors that have become so ingrained into our society?

But those are high level systems, those are the systems that drive me to want to make changes in what I’m involved in now and what I’m passionate about now, while constantly looking toward the future when I can get at those big, bad systems. For now, I want to actively think about how to implement good systems in something that is right in my face and completely doable – GlobeMed at UCLA’s chapter. All of our chapters, and even the National Office, need to implement strong, sustainable systems so that the structure is stable enough to lead us into this bright future’s goal that our network can see, while allowing the network to continue to grow and develop. Establish ourselves without being completely established.

This system will help GlobeMed to reach its goals, however crazy they may seem. (Although what seemed a crazy goal only a year ago will become a reality next year – a Hilltop in Kampala, Uganda!) Making those systems last, making them function well, those are the little things that can feel tedious, that can feel like you don’t see the big picture anymore. Those moments when you’re awake until 3:00am creating the giant bracket by laminating it with tape (it’s as fun as it sounds) and you’re thinking – this is ridiculous, I’m out of control – and then you get to the event and see how excited the members are to see something they’ve all worked so hard on, you know it’s worth it. With GlobeMed, you get out of it what you give. The more you give, the more it will have an impact on your life – whether you’re ready for it or not. The trick is just to be sure to always keep an eye on that goal, and then all those steps along the way will make sense. As a wise woman, former Director of Development Bianca Nguyen, once said – GlobeMed is full of sexy people doing un-sexy things. And this couldn’t be truer. But we have sexy visions of where we want to be and what our goals our, we just need to implement stable systems filled with strong human relations, and we will reach them, together.

In solidarity,

Leah Paz

GlobeMed at UCLA, Internal Co-President

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