The field school, which took place in Durban over 11 days, was offered in partnership with the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE). While in Durban, students attended lectures at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) within the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. They learned from world-class researchers, clinicians, community activists, policy makers, public health practitioners, and people living with HIV in South Africa, all actively working to reduce the impact of HIV among youth.
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SFU students travel to South Africa for field school on HIV and youth
Over the summer, a group of SFU graduate and undergraduate students had the opportunity to travel to South Africa for an intensive, experiential learning course taught by FHS professor Angela Kaida.
“One highlight from the course is that for a few of the readings, we read these impressive articles published in highly respected journals, and then the following day, the author of that article would be teaching a portion of our class!” says MPH student James Young. “It allowed us to dive deeper into the reading and really understand the content.”
The theme of the course was interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the global burden of disease and health inequities in global south settings, with a focus on global health, HIV and youth, framed within a “cell to society” approach.
“We move from the classroom to the lab to the hospital to the community as a group of 20 students, including learners from SFU and SANTHE partner institutions across East and Southern Africa,” says Kaida. “It was an exceptionally rewarding teaching experience for me to witness our students collectively create a dynamic and engaged global health learning environment. “
The unique integration of classroom and field experiences helped students understand major challenges and current developments in global health, allowing them to develop their professional skills as public health practitioners and researchers.
"It was an exciting experience that allowed me to appreciate the connection between what we learn in theory and reality,” says FHS PhD student Richard Khumoekae. “For my thesis project, I work with traditional healers and medicinal Indigenous knowledge keepers, village leaders, bench and social scientists, hence the need to appreciate interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research.”
Working on interdisciplinary and multicultural teams, students were able to apply key global health practices and principles within socially and culturally diverse settings.
“It's one of those experiences that a person will look back on forever when recalling the things they did that made life most worth living,” says undergraduate student Andrea Klein. “I'll always cherish my time in this field school and remain deeply grateful for the opportunity and experience!”
Students interested in participating in this unique learning experience can attend an information session on October 16th, 2019 from 2:30-3:30pm in Blusson Hall seminar room 10401.