Caroline Recalls Her First Experience with Sustainability

10604089_10204617830182167_4091752459693111019_oCaroline is a second year Psychobiology major, and a member of the Communications team! This is her first year in GlobeMed and she is thoroughly excited to be a part of the sustainable change we are creating abroad, and to be surrounded by such passionate, intelligent, motivated GlobeMedders every week! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I first heard about GlobeMed when I was studying abroad in England over the summer. I had just finished my freshman year and was reflecting over all my college experiences. Coming from Chicago—narrowly missing the polar vortex that froze the Midwest for half the year—had me feeling simultaneously slightly guilty and overwhelming grateful to be able to call L.A. my home for the next four years. Although I loved UCLA, and I knew how many opportunities were at my fingertips, I found it difficult to find the right extracurricular activities that fit my interests. I was involved in a few health clubs at first but I didn’t enjoy being in them because I did not feel like they made a lasting impact on the communities that they were trying to help.

My first experience with promoting sustainability in communities abroad was the summer before my senior year of high school. During my junior year I took an elective course on African ecology with a field study portion that involved my classmates and I traveling to Tanzania for two weeks (my high school was super awesome and organized a lot of trips abroad, including one to India a few years ago). Although our time there was short I learned so much about myself, the local people we interacted with, and a whole lot about environmental conservation/sustainability. The trip changed my entire perspective of the world: it became smaller, more homogenized, and less scary. I didn’t expect the local kids I met to be so familiar with American culture and even to like the same music (Beyoncé and Whitney Houston). It was so much easier to find common ground to bond over than I had expected.

One thing that remained with me long after the trip ended was the emphasis the course put on sustainability—not only in the community we were working with, but also how to incorporate the concept into our daily routines at home. Something I struggle with whenever I come back from a trip is how to apply the lessons I’ve learned abroad to my everyday life. When I returned to Chicago I became more aware of the little things I did: long showers seemed less important, I started taking a reusable bag to the grocery store, and chose to walk to friends’ houses instead of driving.

Back to the story of how I first heard about GlobeMed; I was on a bus going to dinner in Brighton, a small town south of London, with a few friends. Some of them were third years from UCLA and I was curious as to what extracurricular activities they were involved in. One friend mentioned an interesting organization that immediately caught my interest. As she continued to explain what exactly GlobeMed set out to accomplish, a few words stuck out to me: global health equity, partnership, nonprofit, sustainability.

I was sold. I wanted to be part of the change this organization was making abroad. It was a refreshingly different model from all the other on campus clubs I had heard of. I applied immediately in the fall and the rest is history! Out of everything I am involved in at UCLA I am most proud of the work I do with GlobeMed for the Mpoma HIV/AIDS Initiative in South Central Uganda. The relationship we have with this community is a familial one, and the change that we are creating together is long lasting.

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