Eradicating Disease and Accessing the Community in Atlanta, Georgia

Exchange alumnus Christopher Yao examines a Guinea Worm at the Carter Center.

During February 8–10, 2017, 29 alumni of U.S. government sponsored exchange programs gathered at Emory University near Atlanta, Georgia. Each alumnus and alumna arrived with a unique expertise relating to the overarching seminar theme, “The New Frontiers of Global Public Health,” which they shared amongst one another during this second U.S. Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES).

As panel sessions began to build a picture of innovative and creative approaches to public health issues affecting communities around the globe, a distinct image of exchange alumni talent emerged. Participants in the seminar shared their observations of nutritional issues within Native American communities, their perspectives on sexual health education for young Muslim Americans, and their approach to public health awareness through virtual game design, among a collage of other ideas. Others presented the process undergone to launch fully-developed projects in their own communities, including a cultural and educational garden in Hawaii and a traditional Native American clay bench in Oregon.

In collaboration with expert-led panels and project discussions, exchange alumni experienced an extensive tour of both the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum at the Carter Center and the David J. Spencer Museum at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). At the Carter Center, Vice President for Health Programs, Dean Sienko, engaged exchange alumni with research about current efforts to eradicate disease and the U.S. approach to aiding in disease eradication. At the CDC, exchange alumni continued to build a greater vision of innovative approaches to public health as they explored exhibitions on the U.S. interaction with a multitude of issues, from the AIDS epidemic to the CDC response to 9/11.

The culmination of this U.S. Alumni TIES in Atlanta was a diverse collection of project ideas developed by exchange alumni, competing for small grants of up to $10,000 from U.S. Alumni TIES. Joining together their different fields of expertise, alumni proposed projects addressing a wide range of needs in communities across the U.S. and abroad.

These projects, each spearheaded by at least two exchange alumni from their U.S. Alumni TIES in Atlanta, combined diverse approaches to public health in addressing community needs. The joint approaches created complex and multifaceted project ideas, intent upon bringing substantive resources in response to community issues.

As these exchange alumni await funding decisions on their projects, the U.S. Alumni TIES team looks forward to spotlighting the efforts of successful alumni projects throughout 2017.

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (Alumni TIES) are regionally focused seminars for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.