Noor Talks Privilege!

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Noor is a second year Human Biology and Society major, and this is her first year in GlobeMed! She is a member of the ghU committee, and brings a fresh perspective to our discussions each week!

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When I came in as a freshman last year, I was looking to join an organization that would help me develop the necessary skills in order to work in the global health arena in my prospective future career as a philanthropic doctor. I went around the activities fair and got a bajillion flyers and went to probably a hundred info sessions but sadly no clubs met what I really wanted. Later on that year, I overheard a friend who was in GlobeMed talk about how much she loved all the work the organization did. I immediately tried to apply but unfortunately wasn’t able to until this fall. I was probably just about the weirdest person interviewed for the fall recruitment period so I was pleasantly and humorously surprised that my interviewers liked me enough to let me slip in—well Shahe and Lauren thank you for seeing potential in me and letting me be part one of the greatest experiences in my college life thus far!

I applied to be part of ghU committee, which stands for globalhealthU, and I am so so proud to say that I’m currently a staff member. ghU is the committee responsible for presenting topics to educate our organization’s members about issues that relate to global health, ranging from understanding the importance of mental health amongst college students to analyzing the pressing and growing problem of homelessness in Los Angeles’ own homeless community—more commonly known as SkidRow.

Yet the greatest part about ghU isn’t only the education that we provide our members: it’s the healthy discussions that ensue after we present our community with the knowledge. The open environment that we create and foster every week is so crucial in our understanding of global health and the complicated dynamics that entail it. As busy college students, we often don’t think to talk about such issues with friends because for many of us we are blessed with not having to deal with problems like homelessness. For that reason, it is so refreshing to be around a group of people who care enough to come together and realize the importance and magnanimity of recognizing our privilege and understanding that it is up to us to incite change when we can by first educating ourselves.

All this talk about privilege reminds me of the most eye opening ghU that I am extremely grateful I was part of because it allowed all of us to reflect on everything that we take for granted each and everyday. The ghU I talk of is called “The Privilege Walk.” In this ‘walk,’ all participants start by standing in a straight line, shoulder to shoulder. When a “privilege” is read aloud you either take a step or two forward and when a “disadvantage” is read aloud you take a step or two backward. If a statement doesn’t apply to you, you stay where you are. The privileges and disadvantages ranged economically and socially.

I realized that I stepped forward for almost every economic privilege; however for many social or personal disadvantages I took a step or two backward, and at the end of the exercise I found myself behind most members. I recognized how extremely blessed I am to have been economically well off for most of my life and to have the great opportunity to attend such a prestigious university. Yet my stance within the group made me realize how my race, culture, and religion have always been a disadvantage for me: the way Muslims and Arabs are constantly portrayed in the American media has created many negative experiences for me.

For others, it was the complete opposite, but whatever the case was we all realized the best part: that we even had the very privilege of conducting this activity in comparison to most people in the world who normally don’t even have the luxury to think about such things on a daily basis. The Privilege Walk was a splendid reminder of the reason why we’re in GlobeMed: to be aware of how blessed we are, and to know that with the realization comes an understanding of our role in helping those who find themselves at various disadvantages.

Love you GlobeMed fam!

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