Update from Mongolia: Global Health Student Reports on Peace Corps Assignment
Global Health graduate student and Peace Corps Volunteer Mezelle Moore, recently reported on her continuing experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Mezelle is serving in the Peace Corps through the Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI) program, along with six other COPH graduate students. In her recent report, Mezelle discussed her roles and responsibilities, as well as observations of her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Regarding her primary Peace Corps assignment, Mezelle reported the following:
Although my counterparts and I have initialized the planning of several health projects, we have still not implemented them. I am currently fulfilling my goal of teaching English to health workers on a weekly basis. I plan on measuring the progress of these English lessons with a pre and post test. While I have helped create and distribute at least two presentations on hand washing and infection control, I find it difficult to measure how these presentations are affecting their respective audiences. As an HIV/AIDS task force leader, I have partnered with my fellow PCV site mates and a doctor of traditional medicine at our local health department to provide HIV/AIDS educational materials and condom demonstrations to a local hair salon in our town. The doctor from the health department donated a box of condoms to this event, and she also helped present the HIV/AIDS materials in Mongolian to this activity. This presentation was centered around World AIDS Day, and the community salon workers agreed to hand out free condoms to visiting clients on December 1, 2012. I have also been able to visit and introduce myself to local family clinics, although I have yet to collaborate with them on public health activities. I hope to become more familiar with the health policies and health care networks at my site, so that I may be able to better meet the needs of my community.
In addition to her primary Peace Corps assignment, Mezelle has also explored options with other public health organizations in her area:
Other public health organizations that I am interacting with include the nursing department and the local hospital. I also helped prepare a healthy lifestyle presentation for the Korean Health Promotion Association during their last visit to my aimag center. Every week I co-facilitate a health-based English class with an employee from the Department of Education here at my site. There are additional organizations that I would also like to collaborate with, including a local branch of the Red Cross. I have also received the contact information for an employee working at Mongolia’s largest communicable disease center, who I hope will help guide me in the research necessary for my special project. Additionally, I have been in contact with a local dentist who has expressed interest in collaborating with several PCVs on a project geared toward providing dental screenings to individuals living in areas with limited access to dental care.
Mezelle also touched on the public health competencies she has addressed recently:
Program Planning – November’s in-service training (IST) allowed my counterparts and I to begin the process of program planning. There have been various needs identified in my community, such as brucellosis education for herders and hand washing for kindergarteners. We are still in the planning stages of programs addressing these needs.
Leadership – I am gaining firsthand experience on how my position as a Peace Corps volunteer is a position of leadership at all times. As a PCV, I believe that I represent both the United States and the arena of health professionals and students in the U.S.
Diversity and Culture -The past few months have included times of celebration and holiday here in Mongolia, and I have had the chance to experience some great Mongolian traditions, such as their New Year’s celebration (Shin Jil) and their preparation for the lunar New Year (Tsagaan Sar).
Finally, with regards to the impact her Peace Corps experience has had on her belief systems, Mezelle responded the following:
This experience has undoubtedly given me an opportunity to immerse myself in a culture and belief system that seem to be fairly different from my own. Within this context, my personal belief in the purpose and the need for public health has been strengthened. I find that I cling even more to guidelines surrounding infection control practices. Although this immersion has been perplexing at times, I have found it interesting to witness how a belief system can so strongly impact the lives and actions of an entire country, from how its people operate a car, to why they eat certain foods. This experience so far has given me more insight into how a country’s belief systems can influence the lives of its people, and has allowed me to be even more reflective on the functioning of my own country (the U.S.).