Priya’s Global Health Journey

Priya Swatch is a 4th year, Psychobiology major in our Campaigns committee this year. She is from Roseville, CA , and is ridiculously obsessed with hummus, eyebrows, TED talks and Drake.

Waking up to the sunrise as it radiated through the car windows onto my Pacific-standard-time, sleep deprived lids; it took me a second to realize that I wasn’t waking up to my dad singing along to the same Top 10 Punjabi songs he played during every road trip, but rather to my uncle singing along to songs I hadn’t memorized all the lyrics to (yet). I struggled to grasp the fact that I was in such an unfamiliar setting as I had half forgotten the 26 hour plane ride I had just gotten off of. Even as I peered out my window I was taken aback by the cows, dogs, people, rickshaws and garbage lining the streets. This was my first time back in India after 6 years and my first time visiting without my parents. I remember bombarding my uncle with questions: Why doesn’t anyone stay in their lane when driving? Wait you don’t have to get out of the car and pump your own gas (this is pretty dope tbh)? Where are we and when are we stopping for gol gappe (p.s. If you’ve never had these then you’re seriously missing out)? Why are there people sleeping on the sides of every street? I was overwhelmed, not by the delicious food and ordered chaos of the streets but by my uncles response to my last question. “That’s just how it is” he said. I was shocked at how nonchalant he was in that answer, how firm he was in his conviction and how unbothered he was with the state of it all. I remember feeling angry and helpless, I knew that I wanted to help but I didn’t know how. I remember deciding that I was going to start a club that would provide shelter and health care services for all of the homeless people in India. All of them. I was convinced I would be the one person to do it. Coming back from that trip I realized how naive and idealistic my goals were. And after trying to join almost every club that had the name “Global Health” in it, I was lucky enough to find a club that I felt really made a difference in the community they partnered with. I think GlobeMed truly stands apart in the fact that it maintains an active longterm relationship with both its projects in Mpoma and also its members in weekly meetings. I think the most important thing GlobeMed has taught me is that dedicated people can absolutely partner with communities in order to improve their health. It’s reminded me of my goal to help those I had seen sleeping on the streets of India, and while it’s changed a bit in that I’m not so sure I can pull an Oprah and yell “You get a car! You get a [house]! You get [free health care]!” I would like to open an Optometry clinic and provide vision services in Punjab, India. Honestly, I’m thankful for GlobeMed for reminding me that you can always challenge “the way things are” and that there are so many ways that we can get involved.


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