Global Health faculty-led trip | Costa Rica | Geneva Switzerland

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Join us for a Student Spotlight Webcast and hear from current students as they share about their experiences on Summer 2018 faculty-led trips. Learn about faculty-led trips to Costa Rica and to the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Find out about new students’ perspectives on public health in a global setting -Hear firsthand why they chose to pursue an MPH Degree at USC. And, watch a Meet & Greet with USC MPH’s Online Program Director Dr. Shubha Kumar.




– [Dr Shubha Kumar] Hi everybody and thanks for being here today. We are really excited to have this webinar, to share some of our student experiences on the Global Health Faculty led trips. A little bit about my background, I am the Program Director for the Online MPH Program and I’m also an Assistant Professor in the department. My background specifically is in global health and those are the classes that I teach as well as the research that I work on. My work really focuses on Program Planning and Evaluation, kind of measuring the impacts of Global Health Programs, how well they’re doing, how they could be improved, not really my area of interest. That’s what I did my PhD in Public Health as well as my masters was also in Public Health. I’ve worked in the private sector of health care, I’ve worked in public sector and also working with international NGOs as a Global Health and Development work is really where my passion fits. A little bit about USC. So the Keck School of Medicine is where MPH Program is housed. We were established in 1885, we’re actually the oldest Medical School in Southern California and you know we are affiliated with several hospitals, centers of excellence, research institutes etc. The MPH program is actually within the Department of Preventive Medicine within the School Medicine and our department has over 100 faculty, many of whom teach on Online MPH Program. We are organized into six different divisions including Global Health, Bioinformatics, Biostatistics, Epidemiology etc and we have a really diverse faculty working on a lot of different research topics and teaching various classes. For those of you who are interested, actually one of our faculty is going to do a webinar next week about her research work with vulnerable populations, so stay tuned for that. But without further ado I’d love to turn it over to Jacqueline Bell now who’s going to share about her experience in Geneva.

– [Jacqueline] Hi everyone my name is Jacqueline Bell, I currently serve as a Project Coordinator for the International Nonprofit Hope of Guinea and I’m also intern for Paul Strauss, he’s the senator or the shadow senator for DC. I currently I’m MPH candidate graduating in 2020. I actually started the program in January and the trip that I went on was to Geneva Switzerland for the PM 589 Global Health Governance and Diplomacy class and of course my concentration is Health Services and Policy. So first going into the class itself, when I first found out about the class, I found out in order to participate in the class, I had to submit an application of interest. The application asks me questions pertaining to my experience and why I was interested in taking the course specifically. The class itself was based in Geneva and it provided a hands-on learning experience. Prior to the class itself we were asked to put together a presentation that would focus on a topic that would be discussed while attending the World Health Assembly itself which was one of the parts of the class. We had to present it to the class prior to leaving the US and my topics specifically was focused on public health preparedness and response. So the objectives of the class itself, we’re focusing on being able to describe a role or a major public, the role of a major public and private sector organization itself related to global health governance and programming. Being able to describe forms through which global health governance is debated or formulized, discussing current strengths and weaknesses of each of the organizations that are related to global health governance and being able to contribute to global health policy itself. So why Geneva? Interesting enough when I was applying to USC, I was told that students experience, ooh I have this experience actually go to the World Health Organization itself, so that was something that actually made me pretty excited to apply to USC. When I told myself as soon as I got in that would be one thing that I would be focusing on doing is figuring out how I can take advantage of the opportunity and come to find out, I’d say that was my, no that was my first semester. So this past January, so maybe like a month in I found out that students would have the opportunity to take part in this class and me I was nervous because I was the first year and even just my first semester in general and didn’t know if I would qualify but I actually qualified and was able to have the opportunity to go. So I definitely encourage anybody that’s maybe in their first semester or still in their first year to definitely apply. So I basically took it as this is my chance, why not take a shot at it? So I had always wanted to work with a WHO which is the World Health Organization and mainly focusing on mental health and substance abuse but I became very interested in policy prior to the trip itself and it was also a bonus that I would be traveling to Geneva where the WHO along with other prominent Public Health Organization’s are headquartered and or at least have a regional office. So I saw this trip as an opportunity to gain more knowledge on what the WHO specifically does and how policy plays a part in public health especially with the incorporation of policies with different countries involved other than the United States itself. So going into the first week. The first week was mostly supposed to act as an introduction for us prior to going to the World Health Assembly. So we had an introduction of the World Health Organization or WHO, Gavi which is the vaccine alliance, the Global Fund, the World Trade Organization and UNAIDS which is a joint program between the United Nations and WHO on HIV and AIDS. We had the opportunity to speak to leaders in each of the organizations also current students that are working there as either interns or under another representative at some point and also past students from USC that currently work there as consultants. We also had the opportunity to have private tours of each organization’s buildings and then even had the opportunity to ask personal questions that we may had, those related to just what the representative did to get into their position or even how we can do better as young professionals in public health. One of the highlights of the first week was being able to participate in WHO’s first consultation on sexual reproductive health and rights. Those students including students that were in my group from USC, there were students from all over the world with various backgrounds, culturally and even career wise. Then we had the opportunity to basically understand what our personal rights are as humans in general when it comes to sexual reproductive health being able to understand the different interventions that are out there related to sexual reproductive health and just being able to understand what our role is as young leaders in public health and how we can make a difference in informing and providing knowledge to people about the interventions that are related to sexual reproductive health and even their personal rights in each individual country. The second week itself was, we clear were all very anxious about and excited too. So the first, the day before which was Sunday we ended up having to go to NCD Alliance which is Non Communicable Disease Alliance, an alliance that basically holds around 2,000 civil society organizations focusing on NCD prevention. We had the opportunity to meet leaders that were a part of NCD Alliance as well as leaders that were part of the different civil society organizations under the Alliance and they basically gave us a rundown of how the World Health Assembly would go throughout the week, things that we could really expect based off of the different agenda items and what they expected from us which was basically taking notes during the different agenda items or agenda meetings and taking the time to actually formulate those note so that they can use it to develop their drafts of the different resolutions that were created during the World Health Assembly itself. I would say for me personally the highlight of that week was being able to interact with the different delegates that were coming from different countries. We were instructed to kind of step out of our comfort zone and talk to as many delegates as possible. So at the beginning of the week we kind of made a list of the different people that we wanted to speak to. We were supposed to be provided with a list of the different people that were going to be there but it kind of disappeared during the trip. So we kind of made idea of based off of the people that were represented based off of country and then even based off of different topics that we personally were interested in. So that kind of made it a little bit easier to find people and kind of speak to them about our own personal interests and even just how we personally can be better leaders in public health in the future even currently right now. So what I learned from this trip. One of the things that I learned was that Public Health Organizations partner with each other. That was something that I, you think it’s common knowledge but me personally I figured the WHO just does everything and civil society organizations are doing things but they don’t really have a say in things but that’s really not the case. All these organizations really work together as much as possible and that’s the reason why we have the different framework policies and different agenda items that we have because everyone is working together and trying to collaborate together to actually resolve different challenges around the world. Another thing that I learned was that the WTO or the World Trade Organization plays a part in public health which I never would have assumed trade had anything to do with public health but we actually got to speak to representative that was related to intellectual property. On intellectual property they were able to speak about how that personally plays a part in public health and me personally I was surprised that the World Trade Organization didn’t really show their face during health assembly but that’s another thing to speak about another time. And health care itself is actually more political than expected that was surprising to me only because I forgot that in order to create policies there actually has to be more people involved other than just WHO itself. I mean even just the foundation that has to be created just to be able to formulate these policies and agenda items and it was interesting just to be able to see how all these different countries together were giving their opinions and then it took time before the resolutions could even be brought up. Even some of these resolutions that they were trying to create for the different agenda items weren’t even discussed until Saturday after the World Health Assembly was really supposed to end. And a last thing was that more work needs to be done in order to actually achieve universal health care coverage which is one of the agenda items that Dr. Ted Rose was really emphasizing and making his priority for this past World Health Assembly. As far as my learning experience. More or less I applied knowledge from the knowledge I already knew of the US healthcare system itself, based off of my own personal environment and even based off of the classes that I took in that first semester focusing on the US healthcare system in general and then applying the working knowledge that I had of my community in the Washington DC area which is where I’m located and then even the communities that I’m aware of in Conakry Guinea which is the country that I usually work with with my organization. As far as my outlook on public health, I would say it’s very promising. There definitely needs to be more collaboration between different governments of countries as well as civil society organizations. There are a lot of meetings where civil society organizations had problems with the government, feeling as if the government wasn’t really listening to the different issues that they had. One specific example for me was focusing on dementia cause that was a topic that I personally was interested in and just with dementia itself, there are a lot of countries that are trying to implement different policies and different framework just specifically for dementia patients themselves and creating communities and environments that are friendly for them. But it takes work of not just the government but also civil society work organizations working together to be able to formulate these communities. So it was good to be able to see civil society organizations voicing their opinion about the challenges that are occurring in their own countries or in their own environment and being able to take that to the government officials that are there or the delegates that are there and being able to ask them basically in their face like, what’s next? How can we work together to solve these issues? And then even just addressing universal healthcare coverage and mental health as NCD for a non communicable disease which is something that Dr. Ted Rose really made an emphasis to during the World Health Assembly itself, was making sure that people understand that mental health itself is considered at NCD. So tips for the trip. I would definitely say don’t be afraid to ask questions. That was something that I was worried about, I didn’t wanna be the person that felt like they didn’t know anything but there were actually a couple people on the trip that really didn’t have that large background in public health. They were just coming in to the program itself or maybe this is their first time just being in the field of public health and they had previous career casts prior to actually joining the program. So it was great to actually kind of bounce off ideas from the students themselves that have various backgrounds and then even being able to just speak to my professors and just asking them hey like I don’t understand this, what does this mean or asking representatives that were at the World Health Assembly or in the WHO or WTO and asking them I don’t understand what this means, how does this correlate with that? Being able to take advantage of meeting other young professionals and delegates, you’re gonna be immersed with a lot of different people, people that you’re more than likely not gonna know and you might not ever see them again. So why not take the time to actually basically put your foot in the door and speak to them and see what they know, see how they can help you, see how you can help them. Definitely take advantage of that opportunity. Taking advantage of using your own knowledge to connect with other people. One of the things that I really tried to do was connecting with people based off of the knowledge that I had of Guinea and even the disparities that are within that country itself, when it comes to health and policy in general. And then of course just have fun. At the end of the trip we basically took the time to just explore not even just at the end of the trip but even throughout the trip a lot of us we would leave and go find new places to eat lunch or dinner and then some of us have food blog so we would kind of like blog about the food we’re eating, smells kind of cool and we took even a trip to Mont Blanc which is the basically the Swiss Alps but on the French side. So that was actually pretty cool. How to prepare for the trip. I would say, save. That’s the biggest thing that I can tell you, is to say it is a lot of money just living in Switzerland. When it came to getting groceries me personally I’m a vegetarian so I had a lot of fresh food, so that cost me a lot of money. I definitely could have saved more if I didn’t eat so much salmon but that’s me personally. But you’ll be fine, a lot of the people that I was rooming with they actually were pretty good with their spending habits. When it came to grocery other than that transportation is actually pretty cost effective, I wanna say I only paid like $40 dollars for a bus pass that lasted the whole month and even extended if I wanted to stay into June. Checking the weather consistently, I did a 10-day forecast prior to leaving and even while I was there like I would check the weather consistently and I basically pack for every season except for winter. I almost packed for winter think knowing that I was gonna go to the mountains but it really wasn’t that bad, it was about 60 degrees. But I would definitely pack for every season and definitely bring rain boots and if you have like those ankle rain boots have those too, you can save your dress shoes. So that would be great and if you’re a girl definitely bring flats, don’t just bring heels by themselves cause you’re gonna do a lot of walking. So you’re gonna want to have flats with you. And that’s really about it for me. Thank you for listening to my presentation, if there’s any questions that you all have, please feel free to let me know. Dr. Kumar back to you.

– [Shubha] Thanks very much Jacqueline. That was really interesting recap of your experience. Sounds like you guys got to meet some really fantastic leaders in global health and experienced some sites and key organizations. So very good, thank you. Next I’d like to turn it over to will Jardell who is also one of our online MPH students and he went to Costa Rica for the class that my colleague Moss Withers and I teach. So without further ado Will it over to you.

– [William] Hi everyone, so I did the intersections between global and planetary health and health equity in Costa Rica course this summer in May. And I’m gonna talk a little bit about that. So a little bit about me, I have been working a completely different career for the past eight years. I’m actually a dance teacher so those are some of my students in the image and when I decided to pursue an MPH I told myself at the very beginning that I wanted to do an online program just to keep my full time job but to also that I wanted to fully immerse myself as much as I possibly could in the program that I started. So when I started in January just like Jacqueline and when the email came out about the global health courses that were available I knew that this was something that I really wanted to do and I have a huge passion for environmental health, climate change and how that relates to public health and so when I learned about the Costa Rica trip, I thought it was a very perfect fit for me and something that I really wanted to learn about. So I had never been to Costa Rica and I was really excited about that as well and on the trips, there were seven of us. So there were four online students and there were three on-campus students, which was really cool to interact with your peers because in the online program you don’t necessarily get to see everybody all the time as an on-campus student. So having those connections in this setting was really rewarding. So just to kind of go through the entire trip. On day one was kind of our introduction to Costa Rica, the climate, the culture and how it all relates to their economy and their whole system. So we went to a coffee estate which is one of the largest cash crops in the country and we also went to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens which was our exposure to Costa Rica and the rainforest setting and the wildlife that is there. This day was very very awesome just to see the beautiful, the nature and to get to know each other right before we got into our studies and through the course. It set the tone very well. So one day two we started with the Inter-American Court on human rights and with this it was all about how the Americas have a court system and how it relates to human rights and all the cases that they’ve done in the past. It was super interesting because for me I didn’t know that this existed first of all and then we learned a lot about how some countries are part of it and some countries choose to opt out like the US, which I found very interesting. And we also had a welcome dinner with the faculty and the staff of the program to start us off for the week. On day three and four we started off with the National Children’s Hospital and we learned a lot about their public health system and how it is universal and anybody within the country can access it. It was super interesting because they take 23%, I think I’m right 23% of someone’s income to pay for the healthcare system which I personally thought was a lot and a lot of people look to Costa Rica as a model for potential US universal health care. But in my brain I was like if you’re gonna take 23% I don’t know how sustainable that would be in our culture. Though it was very interesting to learn how they do it and the access that they have for all of their citizens. After that we drove to a different city from San Jose to San Vito and there we made a stop at the border of Panama and Costa Rica to visit the migration offices. So there are many Panamanians that migrate through Costa Rica to take part in the coffee harvest. And we learned about how most of them migrate through the country illegally and how that prevents them from having access to the health care system and resources that they need for the super long migration process. So if you look at the picture in the very middle, that’s our instructor and he’s holding this really large flip book. So when people migrate legally they receive this book that they can take with them that has how to access health care system, access health care, what they need to do in different types of situations and it was super interesting to see that they’re trying really hard to get people to migrate legally. Because that gives them more tools, more resources to take care of themselves, take care of their families throughout the whole migration process. On day five and six, these are probably my two favorite days because we visited two indigenous tribes. The first day we visited the Boruca Tribe and they talked a lot about the struggles that they have, the challenges that they face throughout the whole journey to access health care. It was very interesting and their energy was of, very welcoming and wanted to teach us and wanted to help us understand what they go through. And then on the next day we visited another community and it was a different energy because I feel like they were a little bit hesitant to let outsiders in probably because of the injustice that they have faced in regards to health care, in regards to inequality. So at the top photo on the right hand side there’s one of the health care facilities that they have in these communities and so they have a physician, a nurse, a medical clerk and they also have something really interesting, it is a person that goes, taps the house and does sort of an assessment about the needs of that family. So we learned about how they do these home visits and how they deliver medication and give people a little bit more access. So I really loved meeting the indigenous people and learning about their struggles and how the healthcare system is trying to fix it and how they’re working together. On day seven and nine we visited a Palm Oil Plantation near the border with Panama. And at this location we also saw the site for the one and only malaria case in Costa Rica and it technically wasn’t in Costa Rica, it was in Panama that the person was living right on the border. But they have a really good system and a really good way to tackle these challenges that they are faced with, if they do have some sort of outbreak. So we learned about the palm oil plantation and how it is affecting their ecosystem and how most of the plantations are monoculture. So they’re eradicating a lot of the diversity in the plant system, it was very interesting and honestly made me never want to buy anything with palm oil ever again because if you look throughout this area is just covered with these palm oil trees everywhere, it’s just full. And then one day eight it was wonderful because we had a day off, we got to explore a new city and really just enjoy our time and soak in all the information that we had learned thus far. On day nine we went to the Playa Blanca and to visit the mangrove which was great. We got to walk around the mangrove we learned so much about how they affect the ecosystem, how they affect the area’s ability to combat a lot of the things that are affecting them in regards to climate change. It was another indigenous group that spoke to us and talked about what they’ve been through and how they are working really hard to restore the mangrove and we also had really great food, if you look at the very bottom, it was some really awesome service. So day 10, 11 and 12. These were our last three days of the trip. On day 10 we had a leadership workshop which took everything that we had learned thus far throughout the program and helped us prepare to tackle these challenges when we got back to the US or bring this information to a wider audience in the US and be a leader in that way. It was a lot of fun to have this leadership workshop because it took everything that we learned and helped us with tools to educate others. On day 11 we did a Hike of Corcovado which is a nationally protected rainforest area and the hike was six hours which sounds super daunting but it was well worth it, we, if you look at the very bottom on the right hand side, that’s a tree I’m six foot six tall if you can imagine that tree is massive. Just to be in the area of the wildlife and in the area of a rainforest was really cool, we got to see so many different things, we saw a slope in the hike. Even though with six hours was well worth it. And then on the last day we had a farewell dinner and we flew home. On this last section of the trip we stayed at the beach which was a great way to end the trip with just being on the beach and learning about all the effects of climate change that are happening in this area. So throughout the whole trip our structure for the days were, we would have about three to four hours in the morning for class time, we would learn about a different topic for instance if we were learning about migration we would talk about the challenges, we would talk about who’s migrating and then we would have a site visit. So all of the site visits are what I just discussed about where we went, who we talked to but before that we would always have a class time. So before the trip we had pre trip reading and we did a report with our different groups. So we got to choose a topic that was really interesting to us and my group chose sustainable development in regards to climate change in Costa Rica. So we got to do our reading and then we came up with a report about what we learned and what we hope to gain from the whole process in regards to our topic that we chose. During the trip we also did a stakeholder analysis in regards to a migration, we looked at a project that they had been working on for instance those picture book that they give to the Panamanians as they migrate, we looked at that and analyzed the stakeholders that have a hand in making that happen, we also created a new project that we hoped move the country would implement in regards to the migration process, that was very interesting to try to think critically about who’s involved, how can they tackle these problems and move forward. At the very end we did a final essay which was, do a little bit after the trip but it was a culmination of all the things that we worked on, all the things that we learned and then we also did a final group presentation. So we stayed with our group in regards to sustainable development and climate change and we talked about all the things that we learned throughout the trip and how they related to Costa Rica and their sustainable development that they’re trying to incorporate into their whole system. So as far as the trip goes just to prepare its, plan ahead of time, there are so much work that goes into any trip but especially this, plan ahead of time, make sure you do your reading, make sure you understand where you’re going, do a little bit of background research on the country and the topics that you’re gonna be learning about and then my Jacqueline said, “Save, save, save.” Save your money and plan for being away and coming back, I think that that’s really important because if you’re gonna be gone for two weeks like we were, you wanna make sure that you’re taken care of while you’re away and then when you come back. So it’s taking advantage of the time you have when you first register and then as you go throughout the whole process. So I was in two courses while I was away, one of them being biostatistics which is was a little bit daunting to be in such a hard class while I was away in Costa Rica but if you communicate with your professors, if you communicate with the staff, they are very accommodating and they understand that this is a great opportunity for you to learn and to advance as a student. So my professor was very helpful she made sure that I had everything that I needed before I left, helped me get a little bit of ahead and help me catch back up right when I got back from the trip. So that relieves a lot of stress about being away. And it’s also just take time and sift through all the details before you go and make sure you’re caught up with due dates, make sure you have all your paperwork, your passport, anything that is needed from you, make sure you’re sitting and just working through those details and not letting the deadlines and everything pass you by. So you definitely don’t want to miss out on a trip like this. Should you go? That is a loaded question but the answer is 100% yes. I like I said at the very beginning, I wanted to fully immerse myself in the program and do absolutely everything that I possibly could do have as much education as much experiences as they could since I was coming from a place that wasn’t in the public health field. And I’m really really happy that I was able to go on this trip and experience what it’s like to be a public health leader firsthand. It’s a rewarding experience, it’s hands-on learning where you get to work with public health professionals and learn about a community that you could potentially work with, you have great access to the faculty and professors. Dr. Kumar went with us and it was awesome to get to know her and to learn from her experiences as well as Dr. Withers. One of the best parts is also the great memories and the friendships that you make with everyone that you go with. Being an online student it has so many positive things and I think that doing this is another positive thing. Because you get to meet your peers, learn about the things that they’re working on and honestly network with a great group of people who is all fighting for the same thing that you want in public health. So I really love meeting everybody and have enough face-to-face time with my peers. And that’s it, Costa Rica is amazing. I hope all of you are able to go next time.

– [Kijuana] Wonderful, thank you so much William for sharing as well as Jacqueline. It’s so exciting to hear of your experiences on these faculty-led trips. We will now try to answer your questions. To submit a question please type it into the Q and A box, if we don’t get to your question today, we will definitely be in contact and speak with you directly. So I want to go ahead and open it up, I have our first question and this is actually for Jacqueline. Jacqueline the question is, were other students at the WHA, were there other students at the WHA while you were there? And are presenters and attendees okay with talking to students and answering questions?

– [Jacqueline] Yes, so there were plenty of students that were there. We didn’t always get to see them but I know for sure I got to see a couple students from UCLA. There were undergraduate students actually from USC that I got to see and me too. So that was kind of exciting and different, we were all looking at each other wait like, “You go to USC too?” “We go to USC too.” So it was kind of funny. And of course when it comes to presenting in general, they actually encourage you to speak. A lot of people didn’t want to speak depending on what the agenda item itself was and this is for the subsection meetings not for the main agenda meetings with every single country that’s in there. So basically the side meetings that had majority of civil society organizations in it. So yeah, they definitely encourage you to speak and express your mind, they just ask that you wait until the end of the presentation itself.

– [Kijuana] Wonderful, thank you so much for answering that question Jacqueline. This next question is actually for Dr. Kumar, Dr. Kumar are these trips offered every summer? And do the locations ever change?

– [Dr. Kumar] Yeah, they actually they are offered every summer and the locations do change. We used to go to Panama in previous years and then last year was actually the first time we launched the Costa Rica trip. So generally speaking the Geneva trip is always a constant every summer and then more than likely the Costa Rica trip will be a constant as well, but we’re always looking to kind of add new programs based on student feedback and also change timing based on what works best for students. So it’s relatively open with consistency of Geneva and probably Costa Rica moving forward.

– [Kijuana] Thank you so much Dr. Kumar. Actually this next question is for you as well, I know that Williams stated that you attended the Costa Rica trip as well as Dr. Withers, but do those professors do what other professors lead the faculty led trips and do those professors teach other courses in the online program?

– [Dr. Kumar] Yes, so for the Geneva trip that’s typically led by Professor Sofia Kreskin and Laura Ferguson both of them are experts in human rights and health and specifically in sexual reproductive health and child health. So they teach the Geneva course which is basically about governance and diplomacy and they lead that trip. And then Dr. Withers and I lead the Costa Rica trip because of its focus on planetary health, looking at community-based research and programs as well as ethics and helps. So it’s, the faculty is dependent on what the subject of the course matter is, these are trips but they’re also courses, they’re you know kind of two in ones. And I forgot to mention by the way that these courses are basically two weeks long in terms of the actual stay in country and students have an option to stay afterwards if they want to complete their practicum or if they want to travel they can stay for longer but of course they’re typically two weeks in terms of the time on the ground and they’re completely optional. So as an online program all the courses are 100% online but these happen to be opportunities for students if you want to go and be in the field that they’re available to you and it’s pretty rare actually for online programs, we are not aware of any other university’s online programs that offer this kind of option. As Jacqueline mentioned some other universities do send students to WHA but if you’re online student this is a really good opportunity to take advantage of them. Of course we’re always thrilled when our students do. All right longer answer to your question.

– [Kijuana]No problem, thank you so much for answering that question Dr. Kumar. Our next question, I’ll actually go ahead and direct to William. William the question is, were there any language barriers when traveling to Costa Rica?

– [Willaim] So short answer to it, yes. there were language barriers for some of us but we did have people in our group that spoke fluent Spanish which was wonderful. At times it made me really mad at myself for not paying attention more in Spanish class in high school but I kind of lit a fire under me when I got back to learn Spanish and learn another language but if I ever do go back to those countries who do speak Spanish that I would have a little bit more, it’s okay to communicate with those there but we did have at least half of our group that spoke fluent Spanish. So anytime that we had a question with someone who didn’t speak any English, it wasn’t too hard.

– [Kijuana] Okay, thank you. All right the next question is actually for both William and Jacqueline and if William can kind of answer this question first that would be great but the question is, how many students actually attended the trip with you?

– [William] So for our group we have seven students from USC, at different times throughout the program we had a couple of other students that would join us. We had two students from Harvard for the second half of the trip and then we had a couple of other students that were in medical school who joined at certain parts. It wasn’t all the time but for certain areas of the trip they would join us in class discussion but for the most part it was just the seven USC students.

– [Jacqueline] For me there were 12 of us. Going to the Geneva trip we were 12.

– [Kijuana] Okay, all from USC?

– [Jacqueline] Yes all of them were from USC. We did have some students that were international, so they were a part of the online program and one person that had already graduated from USC and wanted to come on the trip itself after graduation but other than that everyone was from USC itself.

– [Kijuana] Okay wonderful and our next question is actually towards Dr. Kumar, is there a cap to the number of students that are able to participate in the faculty led trips each summer?

– [Dr. Kumar] Yes there is a cap, we aim to keep them under 20 and around between 10 to 15 is typically the size of the group that goes. So there is an application process, but it’s a short application process we just wanna make sure that students can get to experience it. So you know we find out about your interest, what year you are in the program etc is just to try to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to attend who wants to.

– [Kijuana] Okay thank you so much for answering that question Dr. Kumar. Our next question well it’s a statement, thank you both for taking time out of your day to share your experiences. The question is, I was wondering what your career plans are after receiving your degree from USC, if we can answer, William you can go first, Jacqueline can follow.

– [William] So I would love to have a 100% answer to this question but it changes weekly. But I’m very passionate about climate change, sustainable development and the environment. So I feel as though as I progress through the rest of the program that’s where my focus is gonna be and it kind of where it’s going right now. So any climate change, environment and sustainable development in regards to public health.

– [Jacqueline] For me, I was actually laughing because I’m actually on the same page as Will right now only because when I first came into the MPH Program I was sure that I was gonna go straight to medical school after and now I’m actually considering law school. So I guess at this point we’ll see what happens.

– [Kijuana] Wonderful, thank you so much for that response. Our next question, I can direct that to Dr. Kumar. The question is, do the students receive any class credits for going on the faculty led trips?

– [Dr. Kumar] Yes, they do. So the faculty lead trips are actually structured as courses PM 589 and then PM 599 sort of courses that you take for credit, there is a grade and financial aid does cover the courses as well, if students are on financial aid for their program. There are original cost in terms of, sorry Kijuana, there’s additional cost in terms of the travel fees that’s not covered by financial aid but the cost of the tuition typically is it if your are on financial aid.

– [Kijuana] Okay great and that actually answered the next question, so thank you so much for that. We do have one question to follow up with that, is there other funding assistance available for students interested in participating in the faculty led trips.

– [Dr. Kumar] Yes on occasion there are scholarships to support students to go over for their practicum. If they’re completing their practicum in country after their course trips, sometimes its scholarships there. So it depends every year but there’s a good chance that there will be funding opportunities available.

– [Kijuana] Okay thank you so much for answering that question, our next question I will direct to Jacqueline. Jacqueline did you talk to the on-campus students during your trip about how the online and on-campus programs may differ or are similar? And are online classes is taught by the same professors?

– [Jacqueline] Honestly when it came to asking about the various professors, I know they’re many. There may be some professors that overlap but there’s usually some professors that don’t. I know that my policy professor in the spring, he also taught in-person classes and he also was a researcher and worked at the hospital. So the professor’s have multiple positions not just within the online program itself but as far as the differences between online and in-person. I know some students said that they had more classes that they were taking at one time compared to the online program but that might be based off of personal preference. I know that there was one student that I was speaking to that came in with me, she’s in the same cohort as me and she was actually considering moving from online to in-person only because she just moved to California and it just makes things a little bit more convenient for her because she likes the in-person learning experience than online. But it just varies but for the most part it seemed like we all were receiving the same lessons just everyone had their different personal preferences of how they wanted to learn.

– [Kijuana] Okay, thank you so much for answering that question. This next question is actually for both of our students and if Jacqueline if you can answer this question first and then William follow, why did you choose the online program over the campus program?

– [Jacqueline] So me personally I chose the online program only because I knew I was gonna be working full-time and I personally didn’t want to give up my current position with the organization that I’m working with. Only because I’ve been working with them for so long and I kind of just didn’t want to leave the position. On top of that my family kind of has separation anxiety, so me moving from DC to California was gonna be a big jump for them. So I kind of went with their own personal preference for the time being and it kind of just worked out being able to go to the school that I wanted to while staying home.

– [William] Yeah and for me I chose the online program over the on-campus program mainly because of the flexibility, I travel quite a bit internationally like once every two months, so to have that accessibility to do it from anywhere in the world was a huge factor for me and then also I have a full time job as well that I didn’t wanna give up just like Jacqueline by going to an on-campus program. So that’s pretty much why I chose the online program and I really enjoy learning at my own pace and as much as I love being on campus, I really do enjoy online classes.

– [Kijuana] Wonderful thank you so much for answering that question William and actually this next question is for you as well. This question is, you mentioned that you came into the MPH program without prior education in public health, did you feel anxious or intimidated when you did the Costa Rica faculty-led trip? And if so how did you combat that?

– [William] So I have a bachelor’s in biomedical science from Texas A&M and I graduated in 2013. And so for the past four years actually didn’t do anything with my degree specifically just from other opportunities that I was presented with. And my last semester of undergrad I started my Masters in Public Health and I took one course but I had a little bit like a taste of public health but I also knew that that realm is what I wanted to go into later on in life. So the past four years, yes, I haven’t really done anything in the public health. Yeah, but I knew that I wanted to. And then going into the program and going into the class, I was anxious and intimidated that I didn’t have that experience but I think after the first day and after talking with everybody and listening to them I took it upon myself to learn and to listen to other people especially the professors and the faculty that were there with us just to learn as much as possibly that I could and after a few days I became more confident and became more comfortable with answering questions or leading group discussions just from listening first of all. So I think there’s a learning curve, yes. Just from not being involved in public health but if you are committed and you put yourself 100% in it, you can get over that hump pretty quickly.

– [Kijuana] Wonderful, well I’m glad you’re on a roll Will because this next question is for you as well. The question is, how did your group tackle the Panama migration?

– [William] So for the Panama migration, we wanted to do well a little bit of backstory about the groups that migrate. They migrate in groups between 20 and let’s say 80 people in a specific group. But what we wanted to do was to establish a sort of buddy system and take a public health official or a mentor having contact with the leader of each group. We would give them a cell phone that had location services at any time they had a question or needed something they would have somebody to contact. So each of these leaders would have a way to talk with their group, make sure they had everything they needed and if they had any questions they had a point of contact. And this contact wouldn’t just be during the migration, it would be prior to the migration and then post migration. So they always had this person talk to you. So because right now in the system they don’t have anybody that’s like their point person, they kind of just have to figure it out on their own. So we wanted to do that and it was very interesting. The other group had a very different take on it but that’s kind of what we wanted to do.

– [Kijuana] Wonderful, thank you so much William for answering that question. I have one more question for a Jacqueline. Jacqueline did the trip to Geneva have anything to do with motivating you to consider law school?

– [Jacqueline] I personally would say, yes. Mostly because of the different delegates that I met and even just sitting in the sexual reproductive health and rights consultation and just speaking to students from different countries and just considering the fact that my focus has always been on making a difference and knowing that I can make a difference other than just clinical practice itself but actually starting from the foundation and working on policies that are just going to change healthcare as a whole. So for me that’s something that I’m considering right now is focusing on how I can use my health policy concentration and I feel like the best way to do that is to focus on law school over medical school. I am also considering research only because I like policy research and part of my internship right now working with the senator is similar to that. But mostly I would say it’s because of the trip, the trip kind of reassured me that’s sort of what I’m leaning towards right now.

– [Kijuana] Okay wonderful, all right the next question is actually for you as well Jacqueline and it’s a three-part question. Were you surprised by any of the topics you learned about at WHA? And was your internship supervisor okay with you taking time off for your trip? And also how did you navigate this discussion?

– [Jacqueline] Okay, great question. So first let me start backwards. So at the time when I was going to Geneva itself prior to leaving I was actually working in a psychiatric hospital. So that’s how I kind of have my clinical background. Prior to leaving it was actually hard for me to do so only because I worked in a government hospital. They were going to be okay with me leaving for a week but no longer than that only because they were short staff. So I kind of took it in my own hands to decide which opportunity was going to be better for me. That was only based off of personal preference. So I chose the course and focusing on my schoolwork overall over working at the hospital but you personally don’t have to do that. One thing that I would suggest is because I knew that was something that I wanted to do ahead of time I voiced it to my manager specifically months ahead of time. I’m kind of putting it in her head that this is a time frame that I would potentially be gone even putting in my request to be gone for that certain time frame. Just explaining the importance of the trip and why you personally wanna go and how it’s gonna help with your own personal and career development itself. And then if I can personally be reminded of the first part, the first question.

– [Kijuana] Were you surprised by anything that you learned at the WHA?

– [Jacqueline] I would say that I was surprised with the amount of work that has been done on creating a framework towards creating better communities for people with dementia. Another thing that I was surprised about was when it came to having different countries that were actually represented at the WHA having countries that were sitting in as observers verses actual member states or not even just countries but even just territories of countries and having them sit in as observers instead of actual member states and even just the amount of work that still needs to be done on universal health coverage and the amount that has already been done providing, trying to provide universal health coverage even for students that are coming in to work for the WHO itself and that’s something that Dr. Ted is actually really working on it making sure that students that come in as interns actually have health care coverage as interns. Being that when you go in to be as an intern itself you’re not paid, you’re going in basically using your own money and then even when it comes to providing health care you kind of have to figure that out on your own but now that’s something that Dr. Ted Rose is really taking the time to actually figure out how that can fit in the budget and making sure that everybody actually gets the health care coverage that they deserve including the workers or student workers that are coming in to help out.

– [Kijuana] Wonderful, thank you so much for answering that question, my next question is actually for Will. Someone actually followed you journaling about your group and your trip to Costa Rica showing that you were there for 12 days, but they were wondering if you extended your trip as Jacqueline did.

– [William] I wish No, I was there just for the two weeks but we did have a student that was with us who ended up doing her practicum afterwards and I think she paid an extra six weeks and she worked with one of the groups that we had talked to and worked with. We did have the option to stay longer just for vacation or what have you, but I only stayed for the 14, 12, 14 days.

– [Kijuana] Okay wonderful. So our next question is for Dr. Kumar. Dr. Kumar if a student comes to you or another professor with a specific interest in an organization or cause that isn’t offered in a current, they actually phrase a practicum trip, are there resources to help assist students in finding opportunities aligned with their field interests?

– [Dr. Kumar] Yeah, it’s a great question. So we do support students who want to do their practicum in organizations that maybe aren’t affiliated with us as currently. So they’re, just to be clear there’s kind of two separate things here. There’s a first term that every student needs to complete which is essentially a 300 hour internship that you can do anywhere in the world. We are affiliated with over 500 agencies as of right now all over the world but if you have a particular cause or agency that you wanna work with that’s not on that list, students bring them to us and then we try to establish an affiliation with them. So that certainly an option as far as the practicum. As far as a faculty-led trip, we do respond to students do that. So if students come to us with particular interest in a topic or country location that’s things that we can consider and kind of see how much interest there is and if we have the right faculty to teach that kind of subject we can try to put something together in terms of a trip but for practicum it’s very easy, that happens all the time. Students come to us with a specific interest and we get them place where they want to be placed.

– [Kijuana] Wonderful, thank you so much for answering that question Dr. Kumar and thank you for joining us today. I wanna thank these students Jacqueline and William for sharing your experiences and just thank you to everyone who participated in today’s webinar. I do want to let you all know that a copy of this recording and slide presentation will be available soon. This concludes today’s webinar and thank you again for joining. Have a wonderful rest of the day.