A Letter Home from students on the IHP Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care Spring 2014 Track 2 program:
Dear Friends and Family Members of the IHP Spring 2014 Track 2,
Greetings from the International Honors Program! We have just spent the last four weeks learning about public health issues in Hanoi, Vietnam. Based at Hanoi Medical University, our class has had the opportunity to listen to public health professionals from organizations such as the World Health Organization, FHI 360, and PHAD talk about health issues ranging from the ongoing effects of Agent Orange/dioxin to HIV prevention programs in Vietnam. Our days are packed from beginning to end. Outside of class, we have had the pleasure of staying with incredible homestay families who have enriched our experiences in Vietnam. From preparing traditional Vietnamese meals to weekend excursions, the time spent with our host families has been an incredibly valuable component of our experiences.
More specifically, we had the opportunity to learn about the HIV epidemic in Vietnam. Multiple guest lectures with various backgrounds in this field shared their insights on the status of the disease in the country and what the nation is doing to address the issue. In Vietnam, the spread of HIV is strongly associated with injection drug usage and this has been the main avenue through which to address the spread of the disease. We also had the opportunity to speak with individuals of an HIV support group in Vietnam, the majority of who are HIV positive. It was really humbling and inspiring to hear their personal narratives on living with HIV in Vietnam and the challenges they have faced, as well as the successes they have had.
To round out our time in Vietnam, we did a week-long rural visit at the Lac Village in the Hoa Binh province of Vietnam. At the Lac Village, we visited the communes of the Hmong and Thai ethnic minority groups to learn about traditions, customs, and life in the context of health. The fresh mountain air, the expansive valley of rice paddies and small farms, and the warmth of the sun proved to be especially cathartic after a few weeks in cloudy Hanoi.
Here are a few photos to encapsulate our travels so far (click the photos to enlarge them!):
Sincerely, IHP Spring 2014, Track 2