English 101 and my study abroad experience

As I write my last blog post, I can’t help but reflect on the course as a whole and what I’ve learned. One of the major problems discussed during class was the negative effects and results that derive from medical voluntourism. Before going on my trip to Ghana, I knew that the trip would consist of me participating in research and interacting with the people in the communities I visited. I was required to go to orientation and learn about what to expect when visiting this country. I was also required to take this online course and be certified in the understandings of extramural research. The online course was required for everyone going on the trip to understand the importance of “protecting human research participants.” Looking back, I can see why Professor Muench expected us to do all these things because our actions can mean good, but cause more harm to the people. Going to Ghana has proven to be one of the best experiences in my life and happy to see now that I wasn’t one of those people going in hopes of getting hands on experience on the people without proper training. Although I eventually plan on working in the medical field, I learned just as much interacting with the people living in these different communities. I was able to tie back what I saw and experienced from each village to major issues that deal with sanitation, urbanization, and neglected tropical diseases. From this course, I was able to reflect on my previous actions and ideas I carried with me throughout the trip. Going to Ghana, I was given the opportunity to learn from the people just as much as they could learn from me. Professor Muench did a great job instilling in our heads that the Ghanians aren’t below us and the theme of interdependence was brought up numerous times throughout the trip. Looking back, I realized that Ghana taught me just as much about myself and what I want to do in the future as far as working in the medical field. Ghana wasn’t the type of study abroad in which I searched for saviordom. I learned just as much if not more from exploring the country and interacting with the people than I would have if I went with a quest for experience or the pursuit of an emotional high. Going to Ghana through the biology department at SUNY Geneseo, I observed the community’s actual needs and had to reflect as to why people were living the way they were. Although Professor Muench does a great job at avoiding to display this “white savior complex,” there are still other programs and organizations out there that will advocate and represent medical voluntourism in a positive light instead of focusing on the harm that comes with it.

Bill Mckibben and the reality of our actions

On September 30th, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org visited the SUNY Geneseo campus and spoke about the major problems and contributions of climate change. He spoke about how there has been immense changes with climate/weather in the last 40 years. Unfortunately, he spoke about the issues with climate change and how many people working within the political system will brush off these issues. Something that resonated with me was that he said “we have to take action now and do something about it now.” He said this because people are often uneducated about the growing problems with climate change. Once they learn about the harms, the next step it to work on fixing the problem and looking for solutions. Even though McKibben wants to educate others about the dangers and what contributes to climate change, people will refuse to believe this and turn their cheek the other way.

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Alabama’s Black Belt

When reading this online news article found here, I couldn’t believe that there was a lack of proper sewage disposal in a developed country like the US. There was “raw sewage flows from homes” and a lack to basic services for the people living in this small town. Unfortunately, the people that live in this region are people who don’t make enough money to live in a healthier environment with a median household income of 30,000 USD. Most of the people living in this black belt region are African Americans and have faced discrimination.

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When reminiscing on the novel Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler, I realized that the “other” animal is bought to the forefront. Post humanism oppressed co-evoution of humans with nonhumans and other forms of life. The novel shows the horrors of living and accepting a human-animal hybrid and Octavia Butler creates these characters that displays this human-animal quality. Eli, Meda, and many other characters were enhanced due to this virus and become these hybrid subject. In reality, we fear power and in this novel “the hybrids” hold power and make the humans feel like the “others” on their own land. When Media, Rane, Keira, and Eli become infected, they obtain enhanced senses, speed, strength, and telepathic characteristics. Because of this, they question what they are and wonder if they are animals in human form. Meda questions this and says “We’re changed, but we have ethics. We aren’t animals.” (pg. 39). Although they technically still have human-like appearances, they are still rejected and deemed as unnatural and evil. Jacob was born out of infected humans, but is still rejected and observed as another hybrid. The bodies of humans and hybrid children like Jacob and Joseph can also be assumed as postman bodies. Their new posthuman bodes need to interact with the new environment. For a posthuman, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they carry a new body, but that they have to accept being challenged. Both the humans and hybrids must understand each other. The non human body of Jacob stands as a barrier for the humans to accept him as one of “them.” Humanity often denies and fears deformity. Deformity is often portrayed in Clay’s Ark. Jacob had a human face but an animal body, making it almost impossible to be accepted by humans. On the other hand, Butler accepts human body, but without racial and cultural uniqueness. In reality hybrids will face a lot of problems in a human world. In a postman world, dominance of a single species is denied by Butler and multi species interaction and co evolution is exhibited. Butler challenges the theory of accepting the “other” regardless of how they look and what they do. Through her novel, she points out the flaw that many will have with accepting others based on appearance. The novel is a science fiction but relates to the class because it demonstrates how one will treat others differently based on appearance. For example the Tuskegee experiments demonstrated how white medics thought it was ok to infect african americans and neglect them treatment because they saw these people as “different” and not as one of their own. By creating this hybrid, Butler introduces ideas like human dependency, sharing, and a changed world with altered species part human.

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Medical Voluntourism needs a checkup

In (12/4) class, we were asked to look for possible solutions that could help with the problem about Medical voluntourism. This problem possesses an overlooked threat to emerging health systems in low and middle-income countries. The investors in global health systems should take action to implement solutions that will make medical voluntourism more beneficial for the volunteers, patients, and health systems. Students as young as high school students are often interested in the medical/health care field and encouraged to gain “real world” experience by volunteering to do medical work in developing countries through organizations. This practice entails untrained, uncertified, young students practicing directly on patients to a much greater degree than would be allowed at home or in their country. Unfortunately this is still being allowed in other countries, and people are unaware of the risks and damage that medical volunteerism brings.

Before taking this class, I wasn’t as aware about the issues and risks that came along with medical voluntourism. As I worked and spoke with other students in the class, we discussed several ideas or solutions that could be done to inform the public and stop this type of dangerous practice from happening in other countries. Something that I strongly believe could help this problem is having a certification component that goes along with volunteering in other countries. Certification components should require medical professionals to conduct training for students that plan to participate. Along with getting certified and being trained, students should present a project about their understanding of the healthcare system in which they participated, the ethics of their work, and future motivations/goals within the healthcare industry. If students were to accept these guidelines, they’d be more aware about the risks of medical voluntourism and less likely to go on these trips to gain something new to add to their resume. Overall, medical voluntourism is a challenging concept that others may not see a problem with, but the only thing that can be done is to inform the public about the pros and cons of such topic.

Saartje Baartman: The Exploitation of African Americans

WARNING: This post has many details/obscenity that one could find disturbing
Who is Saartje Baartman? (also known as Sara Baartman)
A couple of weeks ago Dr. McCoy mentioned Sara Baartman and her relevance to the class, but I was still curious about this female figure. After some research, I learned that Sara Baartman was someone who lived an uneasy life during the 19th century. She was an African American female that lost her fiancé at the age of sixteen to Dutch colonists. She was taken by the dutch to serve as a domestic servant and later exhibited for entertainment purposes. The contract she “signed” stated that she would receive a portion of the earnings from her exhibitions and then given freedom after five years. The reason she was exhibited by Europeans was because of the shape of her body and “exotic” color of her skin. She had large buttocks and large breasts that instilled curiosity to the white public ranging from places between England and France. The sad reality is that she was objectified and displayed half naked to the public. After being exhibited for about four years in London, she was sold to another white male, Hendrik Cezar, who showcased her with other animals in Paris demonstrating the lack of respect given to her as a human being. Due to the color of her skin, Cezar felt superior and would order her to sit and stand certain ways, treating her like the rest of the animals being showcased alongside.

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The definition of consent and what we mean by consent tends to be manipulated or misinterpreted. According to dictionary.com, consent is “to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield.” Unfortunately what some may fail to understand is that you have the right to say no after having said yes or given consent. In Clay’s Ark by Butler, the idea of consent is often abandoned and manipulated by the disease. An example of this is with the sexual interactions between Eli and Meda. Continue reading “”

The false Illusion of race


Throughout history, there have been divisions among people based off of external qualities. Some of these qualities included skin color, eye color, hair type, etc. These qualities form categories based on race. In biology, there is no genetic code that defines what race one is. There are small variations in strains of DNA between the human species. Many experiments have been done to look for something that simply isn’t there. Continue reading “The false Illusion of race”