Monday, April 25, 2011

Mis deberes

Many people have asked me (and rightfully so by curiosity´s standards) what I´m actually doing in Chile, in Santiago, at EPES. Am I sitting at a desk most of the day? Am I out saving lives and curing diseases (uh... no... I´m not a superhero or some version of deus ex machina)? Am I out there on the street talking to people all of the time?

Well, you don´t have to wait any longer. I finally have some answers to give on this subject.

Being that this is week 4 of my internship, you might be a bit stunned to realize that I don´t, as of yet, actually have a finalized workplan within my grasp. Hopefully this logistic will be firmed up later today during a meeting of the educational team and I´ll end up making a nice little graphic that shows my tasks and objectives and when they are due, and my small want for something solid in terms of a schedule (and this is why I´m pursuing a life rooted in community health, obviously. Right) will be satisfied. Until then, however, I´m already quite happy. The last few weeks have been spent in the following ways:

  • Getting to know my coworkers. In all honestly and seriousness, this job would absolutely blow and give me nothing in return if I didn´t get to know my coworkers. This job underlines a cultural value for interpersonal relationships in the work place (the work day is from about 9 -6:30, but you get around an hour to two hours for lunch and chatting, give or take a few minutes since you are not supposed to and not expected to watch the clock), and I wouldn´t be given important tasks or offered daily emotional and technical support without making an effort to become acquainted with each staff member of EPES. I even get the sense that I´ve made a few long term friends, which, especially in such a short time, is a huge thing for me.

  • Starting a literature review on obesity and diabetes in Chile, in Latin America, and reaching even further into an international spectrum while concentrating primarily on social determinants of obesity. I was specifically asked by my supervisor, Sonia, to look at whether and how gender and poverty could influence this type of chronic disease (the answer to the first part of that question is "yes"). So, I have had a desk job for the last few weeks, and I´ve read hundreds of abstracts (not exxagerating) in both Spanish and English (I even glanced over some articles in Portugese and French) and several long reports. I´m in the process of compiling a final bibliography (which I want to be done today, please...) and I´ll hopefully have a short report written up (in Spanish, with correct grammar and proper diction) by Wednesday.

  • Participating, first as an observer and then as a semi-member, of a local community network that works to promote safe sex practices and to educate the populace about HIV/AIDS. It´s amazing being able to take part, and to have been invited to take part, in such a longstanding group (they just celebrated their 20th anniversary) with such incredible women.

  • Being sick. I was sick last week with some stomach thing and ended up staying away from work for a couple of days. I figured that vomiting in the work place does not really make for a great impression, and that reading and sleeping were better choices for a person who couldn´t even drink orange juice without feeling queasy. Also, it seems that several sicknesses are making the rounds in Santiago ever since the weather started to change from clearly shouting summer to zipping quickly into that midway point between fall and winter.

So, that´s what I have been doing at work. And eating bread. Because I´m in Chile, you should just assume that I´m always eating bread (and drinking at least three cups of ceylon tea per day).

What I will be doing, to the best of my knowledge, is as follows:

  • Finish up that liteature review on obesity and the accompanying report. Go to an education team meeting sometime later this week or next week and present my findings, and suggest further steps that can be taken to learn more about this health issue.

  • Team up with health workers to start looking at ways of performing interviews within the El Bosque neighborhood to gather views on healthy eating and barriers to buena alimentación. Perhaps also work out a way of community mapping to involve both schools and almacens.

  • After getting some information from interviews, start to outline how an educational model could be made to train health workers in promoting healthy nutrition.

  • Work on a web page/blog for the community network mentioned above. I´ll be working with one of the members to sketch out content, and then I´ll work up a project proposal. Depending on the suggestions and comments on the proposal, I´ll start working on the page, launch it, and create a training module for running and sustaining the site that I´ll present as a capacitation exercise to the network. (I´m actually also starting that proposal today).

  • Attend a capacitation training in May, as well as various events and marches happening during May and early June.

  • Work on an inventory for some of the old educational games that EPES produced during the 80s and that the in-house library is trying to catalogue (think 20 years of backstock).

  • Enable skype on several computers here.

So yes. That´s the life of Jamie for the next while. A bit of desk work, a bit of walk work, hopefully a lot of interaction with the community (or at least a fair amount).



  1. Thanks for all the wonderful updates!

  2. Love the ramblings and updates! Keep them coming!!!