Learning Away From The Laptop

Wadad Itani

Wadad Itani

2nd Year MPH Health Behavior Health Education Candidate

The thing that I like about the Public Health in Action classes is the amount of unexpected skills and knowledge you always come back with. That Knowledge is also learned mostly away from traditional modes of learning. Did we do a literature review that informed our approach? Yes!  However, is the literature review the thing that helped us learn the most? Of course NOT!  

As future public health practitioners, it is important to center ourselves from time to time in interactions with the public we are trying to support and partner with. This is even more salient when collaborating with a community that we are not a part of.  

As someone who loves traveling and seeing new parts of the world with different cultures and traditions, this was an amazing experience for me. It was especially interesting because we didn’t just do the tourist things (Not that I am mad at the very therapeutic beach day we had).  We went around the island meeting people in different parts and interacting with them to try and understand their thoughts on blood donation in Grenada.  

We learned a lot about the blood donation process through key informant interviews with the  Grenada Red Cross, the Blood Bank of Grenada, school leaders, policemen, and healthcare workers. We also learned about what would drive the public to a voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation approach through more than 77 surveys and informal interviews.  

The thing we learned the most is how much we don’t know! A lot of the learning lay in the details of the everyday life routine and values that are important to the Grenadian people. To gain a true understanding of how the social determinants of health come together and affect blood donation, it was important for us to have that on-the-ground experience. The welcoming and collectivist spirit of the Grenadian people will remain with me forever, and I am grateful we got to have that experience.