Lizette, Smith College

Public Health in Colombia, 2018

Lizette, a Biology and Women and Gender Studies candidate from Smith College, tells us about her time participating in the 2018 Public Health in Colombia course.

“The Public Health program began with an introduction of the history of armed conflict in Colombia by Professor Henry Cancelado. Henry’s lectures were my favorite because he explained the material so eloquently and maintained an engaged audience. After Henry’s lectures, lecturers began repeating much of the information, graphs and topics. Though the material was crucial to understanding the Public Health system in Colombia, the repetitiveness and often lack of enthusiasm made it difficult for myself and other students to process the material as we did in Henry’s lectures.

I appreciate all the effort that Red Tree Study and Javeriana put into facilitating our site visits to the different key players in the public health system. We were able to visit the Instituto Nacional de Salud, Mission of the United Nations in Colombia, Ministry of Health, the national Cancer Institute, Javesalud, DANE and the District Secretary of Mobility among others. The site visits were meant to further enrich our knowledge and understanding of the material we had learned in the morning session. However, often the site visits took place in an auditorium and were limited to that auditorium. Our site visits could have had a more interactive element to ensure that we were not only learning new material, but also engaging with the material. Though I appreciated the opportunities to go to the site visits, I do wish we had been able to see more of the places we did go to.

CityU was a beautiful residence and the facilities were incredible. My group and I spent most of our free time up on the 30th floor, which not only had an AMAZING view of Monserrate and the city of Bogota, but also had TV rooms where we would stay up and watch movies, pool tables and group study spaces. Many of the memories I will forever hold in my heart were on the 30th floor of Torre 1. Together we laughed, some cried, we slept, and we bonded. The experience of studying abroad is always bittersweet. We all come from different places and meet in one same place for a short period of time. This particular experience though has been the most bittersweet study abroad experience I have had thus far. I connected with my peers so much more than I had during any other trip and I will always be grateful to Colombia for beautiful people it crossed my path with.

One of my favorite memories from Colombia is when we watched the FIFA match between Colombia and England. Instead of being in a classroom, my friends and I watched the game from Plaza 39. We were completely surrounded by passionate Colombians and emotions were running high. I felt so at home, like I belonged in that Plaza yelling and enjoying the game with my friends. Even now that I am back home in Los Angeles, I think about this day and feel all the emotions I felt during those hours. This experience left me wanting to submerge myself into Colombian culture even more. The hospitality, kindness, generosity and willingness to help I received during my short stay made me love Colombia and its people even more. I am sure I will return to this beautiful land and encounter more beautiful people in the near future”.