Desde La Frontera
Alexis Villafranca, MHI Student
April 5, 2019, Health Behavior and Health Education, Health Informatics, Practice, Texas
Going back home to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) from Michigan has always been the same routine for me. I prepare for a long travel day, arrive to sunny and warm weather, and spend all my time with friends and family. However, this time I arrived to frigid weather very similar to Michigan and I soon realized that this trip home would be very different to any of my others.
My week with Tu Salud Sí Cuenta (TSSC) kicked off quickly and we began analyzing the assigned material for health behavior theoretical models by noon. As we prepared for our trip, I was worried as to how I would contribute to this work. I am in the Health Informatics program and did not take the health behavior theory class that my partner and other classmates did take. However, the TSSC team as well as my partner gave me the support I needed to learn and identify the theories and models in our assignment. By the third day I was even pointing out health behavior theories outside of the office. Although we were given a main task, TSSC also invited us to attend various events and meetings that showcased their involvement in the community. For me, this was the most eye-opening part of the week. Coming from the RGV, I have heard so much about the health disparities that affect the area. The public’s health in border communities is always painted so negatively. However, I attended a Body Sculpting work out class, a Happy Kitchen cooking class, and a meeting for Cyclobia where key community leaders gathered together to make important decisions on the event. I saw my community from a new perspective. There are huge strides in improving the public’s health that I hadn’t realized before this week. This is groundbreaking public health work taking place in the RGV by public health professionals that care very deeply. I have always considered the RGV a hidden gem, and this week proved that even more to me.
I am very grateful for the opportunities that TSSC allowed me to participate in over the course of this week. I was included in spaces I did not know existed in my own backyard and they are experiences I will carry with me into the future.