For the past two years, FACES for the Future Coalition has proudly partnered with the Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II to develop a global health career pathway for diverse youth underrepresented in global health. To this end, our goals are to expose youth to global health careers at an early stage of their educational development and to inspire them to pursue careers in global health. GHFP-II and FACES believe that our youth reflect the diversity of backgrounds and lived experiences that will make them ideally suited for global health careers.
The process of educating young people about global health has been an extraordinary experience. Our students have embraced the notion of global service and many, who are immigrants themselves or come from immigrant families, have expressed a personal connection with the values that are inherent in global health work. Often through sheer necessity, they have already developed unique skills, such as resilience, innovation and cross-cultural communication that align well with the skills required for global heath work. For me, it has been a privilege to witness their awareness evolve through global health competency and leadership training.
For youth we work with, simply talking to them about career opportunities in global heath is insufficient and frankly, ineffective. The perceived and structural barriers our students face conspire to prevent them from viewing those careers as realistic options, even when they possess an interest. As one FACES student shared, “Being from where I grew up, it’s a challenge because the first thing on your mind isn’t becoming a doctor or anything. It’s really just about survival and how you’re going to be a provider for your family.” Career awareness is only part of the process – it is a start. We must work with the students to address their realities and priorities, and attempt to reframe the notion of possibility for them.
As we approach the eve of our first Global Health Youth Summit (GHYS) in Washington DC sponsored by GHFP-II, there is a palpable energy and excitement among the students. In a few days, twelve capable, enthusiastic and diverse youth scholars, representing all FACES’ programs in California, will travel to DC to continue the work we started with them locally. We’re leveraging the global is local framework for this Summit, given the diversity of our youth and their deep desires to give back to their largely immigrant home communities.
Following years of GHFP-II and FACES GH curriculum and leadership development, they possess a basic knowledge of global health practice, career opportunities and the skills required to be a competent professional in this sector. Equally important, they have done personal reflection on why global heath careers make sense for them. The Youth Summit in DC is the culmination and next natural step of professional development for these students. And it is a necessary step. Building off of USAID Global Health bureau’s leadership, GHFP-II and FACES see this Summit as a call to action. We must build upon the awareness, reflections and foundational knowledge by providing mentorship with global health professionals. We must continue to not only create more opportunities for minority students to enter the global health workforce, but challenge the Agency and other government agencies like it, to increase opportunities and activities for more students to gain the experiences needed to work in this field. International experience is a USAID/GH requirement for employment, and yet only a small percentage of the possible GH workforce has this opportunity.
On the other side of this equation, GHFP-II and FACES seek to challenge the students to make connections between health in their local communities and health around the world. This is the fundamental notion behind global is local. For most, it will be the first time they have traveled outside of their local communities. So, during the Summit we plan to strengthen the links between the skills students developed in our preparatory curriculum and a potential future global health career with the USAID. We will ask them to put some of the basic theories of global health into practice through simulation activities with the mentors. We will ask the students to reflect on their experiences and growing awareness of global heath through blogs and social media. We believe the Summit will be a deeply transformative educational and personal experience for these students. Their profound excitement about this opportunity is already palpable and contagious!
As our complementary partner, GHFP-II and the Public Health Institute, FACES’ host organization as well, has provided critical resources to create a learning pathway for diverse, underrepresented and disadvantaged youth. GHFP-II has not only helped to inform our content and training processes, but they have designed a truly unique and innovative global health career experience for deserving high school students. This early career intervention will empower these students to continue to strive beyond their circumstances and see this career pathway as an avenue to better themselves and their community, while meaningfully contributing to the global health workforce. The students and I so look forward to being in DC later this week with GHFP- II to continue doing the work to develop future global health leaders!
See more at: https://www.ghfp.net/content/immersing-youth-global-health#sthash.zNLmjBuz.dpuf