Sofia is a fifth year Gender Studies major at UCLA. This is her third year in GlobeMed, and she is the Internal President! Keep reading to learn about GlobeMedxUCLA’s progress over the past three years from Sofia’s perspective.
GlobeMed is a nonprofit organization that partners with grassroots organizations in developing countries all over the world. We are one of about 56 chapters across the United States amongst universities such as UPenn, Columbia, USC, UT Austin, and Northwestern. Yes, there are many clubs and organizations dedicated to global health, but we are different. Why? We believe in sustainability. We do not go into a community, change things abruptly, and leave them to figure things out alone. We are a partner. The UCLA branch of GlobeMed communicates with our partner, the Mpoma Community HIV/AIDS Initiative, at least once a week to collaborate on projects like W.A.S.H. (Water Access Sanitation and Hygiene). The goal of this project is to create wells within the community that provide clean and easily accessible water.
To give a little bit of background on myself… I am a transfer student from Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California (not Walnut Creek, google map it). I came in as a chapter member, then my second year I became Co-Director of Development, and now in my final year at UCLA I am Internal President. Over the course of my three years I am lucky not only to have witnessed GlobeMed accomplish many impressive goals but also overcome challenging obstacles.
One of the most difficult issues we faced as a chapter was re-partnership. After finding out that I was chosen to be on the Executive Board my second year I learned that we would be re-partnered, meaning that the relationship we had with our previous partner, the Nwoya Youth Center, would no longer exist. This process was difficult because we were so invested in them—they were family and now we had to start all over again. I was so nervous because it felt like we were starting from scratch. Even after a whole year of being partnered with Mpoma, many members on the Executive Board still did not know the community as well as we would have liked. One reason was because we lost so much of our footage from the annual GROW trip that interns take every summer. We had little to nothing to work with. How could we motivate chapter members when we did not know our partner very well either?
That was one of our priorities for this year. Our External President and I made it a goal to ensure that our partner would be at the center of all that we did and I believe we have been quite successful in accomplishing that. Now our members know the Mpoma community and every meeting they learn more about them. This continual familiarization was all a part of a long process and I am so grateful that I was a part of the growth. Over the course of three years, I witnessed the chapter struggle with re-partnership, but I have also seen students from all walks of life, socioeconomic backgrounds, and various places around the world join our chapter to work towards a unified cause motivated by global health equity.
During my time at UCLA, I have experienced quite a lot, both good and bad, but throughout the entire process, I never considered dropping GlobeMed. If anything, it was one of the few ways I escaped negativity in my life.
It is sad for me to write this, knowing that in five months I will no longer be involved in GlobeMed. Two and a half years ago, I was an incoming transfer student with no clue as to what I should get involved in. I barely knew anyone. I had little to no resources. Other transfer students I knew were not actively involved. I wanted to change that. I worked hard to be here, at UCLA, and I wanted to make a name for myself too. Most importantly I wanted to challenge myself. I did not want to be part of something just to put it on my resume, I wanted something that would change my perception of the world. Then I came upon GlobeMed at the Activities Fair where I was welcomed with open arms.
Since then, my love for GlobeMed has only grown. Sometimes I forget that this is my last year. I still feel like I am going to apply again in the Spring, but that is obviously not the case. I will say, though, that out of the many things I was involved in over my time at UCLA, GlobeMed is one of my favorites. I am blessed to have met lifelong friends who have become family. I am blessed that every single meeting I am surrounded by such passionate, intelligent, ambitious, and diverse individuals who are just as motivated as I am to make GlobeMed even better. Every year, I am excited to see so many new members that bring fresh perspectives to each discussion, but the best part is that at every meeting there is always a reason to smile because there is greater happiness to be found in all the amazing work we do. I am so grateful for that. That is something that not many can experience, and I have found that in this amazing group of people. That is something I will never forget.
GlobeMed Love Always ❤