Growth, Excitement, and Learning in Anticipation of Mississippi Trip!

Nebi Girma

2nd Year MPH Candidate - Epidemiology


Hello, my name is Nebi. I’m a second-year graduate student at the University of
Michigan School of Public Health in the general epidemiology department. I am looking
forward to coming to the Mississippi Delta. Initially, I didn’t really know what to expect from
the Mississippi project. In the south, I’ve only visited Memphis. I wasn’t sure to what extent
Mississippi would be similar or different. Since starting the course and learning more about the
community, the median household income (i.e., Coahoma County has a median income between
2016 and 2020 of roughly ~$31k) was shocking (U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts, 2020). This
meant that the median salary was less than half of the national household income. Additionally,
an important aspect of the community that struck me was the lower literacy rate. I began to
consider the ways in which residents could be impacted in terms of their job prospects.

Some of the class sessions that involved the community partners were ones that I found
to be very eye-opening. Specifically, I thought that being able to connect with others who are
familiar and are living in Mississippi or in particular the Delta helped to put a face to the partners
we are intended to work with. In particular, I also want to be mindful of what is expected of us
aside from the professional demands including any customs or traditions that we should be aware
of. So this includes dress or communication styles that we should be adhering to during the
experience. Most of my concerns really stemmed from my limited experience in the South as
well as limited experience in rural areas in the United States. As someone who is Ethiopian, I
have interacted with rural communities in the global context and had the cultural competency
required. However, because the Mississippi Delta is in the United States, a higher-income
country, and not having lived experience in the region, I want to be mindful of how I interact
with residents that are from there.

I look forward to really helping support the food Rx program and the Mississippi team in
accomplishing their goals by supporting residents that are faced with food insecurity. I also
appreciated getting a preview of the rich culture, food, and music in Mississippi from our
Mississippi partners and am excited to get to experience these aspects of Mississippi as well. In
terms of the work, we will be doing my group is based in Coahoma County and essentially we
will be utilizing the interview guide questions we’ve developed to get a better sense of the
current food Rx program from our stakeholders by holding focus groups sessions. These sessions
will be recorded such that we are able to code and analyze any barriers or highlights of the food
Rx program that are mentioned across stakeholders and we will ultimately provide a formal
write-up from the analysis which will be followed by a presentation.