In Sierra Leone, where I come from, most of the young graduates are unemployed. Graduates are left to aspire for two major opportunities: to get a job or to secure an international scholarship to pursue the studies of their dreams.
I am able to better analyze global health issuesI graduated with honors in Mass Communication at the University of Sierra Leone and was very lucky to find a Job with WHO-Sierra Leone as a Community Engagement Officer for the Western Urban Area during what has been considered the world´s most deadly Ebola outbreak.
My interaction with different people has helped me to develop a better sense of my identityIt was a colleague from WHO who was assigned to support the Ebola Response in Sierra Leone that came across the scholarship from the ISGlobal website. I had told him once that I was searching for scholarship opportunities to study a Master in Global Health so that I am able to better analyze global health issues. Few months later my colleague forwarded to my email the ISGlobal website advertising scholarship opportunities for Sub-Saharan students and I applied. In September last year, I was awarded the ISGlobal Master of Global Health Scholarship Program.
One of the concepts highlighted in most seminars is “interdisciplinarity”In Barcelona, I have met people from around the globe with accents and lives very different from my own. These differences are also true among my African colleagues in the Master, although at a smaller scale. Interestingly, and despite the apparent differences in cultural and social orientation, I also discovered many things that we shared in common. My interaction with different people has helped me to develop a better sense of my identity, as compared to my experience at the University of Sierra Leone. Barcelona is sparklingly beautiful and I would love to say so in Spanish but I’m not sure I can manage yet. I have not really moved around a lot but the view I get of the mountains during my one hour train journey to the university every morning is just as beautiful as the mountains in Freetown.
Photo: Glòria Solsona
Approaching the same global health challenge but from different perspectivesIn classroom, we are always welcomed by course coordinators and teachers with a great wealth of experience and who deliver our daily lectures. On Fridays, I have benefited from a series of seminars which to me have been key in providing practical field experiences. One of the concepts highlighted in most seminars is “interdisciplinarity” and that is one of my take home messages. Indeed, it is of enormous educational value to sit in the classroom with nutritionists, dieticians, medical doctors, pharmacists, political and social scientists approaching the same global health challenge but from different perspectives.
My analytical, research and presentational skills are no longer the sameOverall, I have been able to quickly find a link between my background in communication and the Master. ISGlobal stimulates high academic performance from scholarship holders in the master program, regardless of their background. Two crucial courses in the Master of Global Health that proved challenging at first given my academic background were Epidemiology and Biostatistics. My background indeed never prepared me well for neither of them. However, I quickly catched up thanks to the two course coordinators who helped me overcome my shortfalls in math and statistics through special sessions, and my two Nigerian colleagues who were always available.
There is no one-best-way solution to global health challengesThe course format of regular assignments coupled with the daily essential readings before sessions the following day and the unusually cold winter season were also a challenge. Regular group assignments and presentations that I had not really experienced during my bachelor program enhanced my sense of responsibility, as well as awareness that there is no one-best-way solution to global health challenges.
As I empty my wardrobe and pack my stuff to go home and face the world of global health, I know that my analytical, research and presentational skills are no longer the same.
Photo: Glòria Solsona
The people I met have not only showed me new things but have also widened my reach of global health experts from different background and disciplines. To my fellow men in Africa wanting to pursue studies abroad, my advice is start by surfing the internet and apply for those opportunities; ISGlobal is a great place to be.
Meanwhile, my current desire is to work in global health communication programs. With funding opportunities, I intend to commence a ground breaking national health television program in my country that will serve as a platform for global health advocacy and trigger debates among health stakeholders.