Global Health Cultural Immersion Trips & Fieldwork

Early in the global health program, students participate in a cultural immersion trip. These trips provide an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a culture different from their own and gain tangible experience in a global health setting. Locations range from South America to Africa to Asia. Students from all NUNM programs are welcome to join cultural immersion trips.

Fieldwork

The Master of Science in Global Health program has a required fieldwork component that enables students to pursue practical experience locally, nationally or internationally with support and mentorship from expert faculty. Students develop a project in conjunction with a global health organization, which serves the organization and provides the student with practical skills. Fieldwork projects involve diverse activities such as ethnographies, educational program development, secondary data analysis, environmental health assessment and community activism. Students share the results of their fieldwork projects with the School of Research & Graduate Studies and at global health conferences, and can use them as a launch point for future employment. Students find the fieldwork experience meaningful and often life changing.

Upcoming Trips

Spring 2017

Taos: April 2-7, 2017  Application deadline, Feb. 19, 2017
Download the Taos trip application.

Summer 2017

Tanzania: July 12-August 2, 2017 – Application deadline, Feb. 5, 2017
Download the Tanzania trip application.

Nicaragua: Dates TBD

Ghana: July 9-30, 2017 – tentative – Application deadline, Feb. 19, 2017
Download the Ghana trip application.

Trip Descriptions

Nicaragua

The setting for this trip is Ometepe, an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua. Within this stunning UNESCO biosphere reserve, students work with the oldest naturopathic global health nonprofit, Natural Doctors International, shadowing a variety of providers in an integrative naturopathic primary care clinic. The trip is community centered and community driven: students homestay with a local family, work with campesino farmers, and gain unparalleled rural clinical experience in a developing country. The curriculum prioritizes clinical service, cultural humility, and understanding the economic and political factors of globalization that impact global health policy. This is a true cultural immersion, a trip that empowers every participant to ignite their passion for social justice with knowledge, service and action.

Taos

Taos is a unique part of the United States, filled with historical pueblos, organic farms, eco-housing, art and natural healing environments. This trip allows students to explore the multicultural, spiritual and natural surroundings of this region. Students will be introduced to ancient native cultures, learn from sustainable farmers, hike in the Sangre de Christo Mountains, visit El Santuario de Chimayo, and relax in the Ojo Caliente mineral springs. These diverse experiences will expose students to some of the rich cultures and landscapes found only in this region of New Mexico.

Tanzania

Tanzania is one of the most ethnobotanically diverse places in the world. With more than 10,000 plants, Tanzania is rich with botanical medicines. Unfortunately, those riches don’t translate into health care. With a physician to patient ratio of 1:250,000, Tanzania has extremely limited access to medical resources. This trip immerses students in Tanzanian culture. They learn the medical spectrum, from large-scale clinical trials on HIV, to indigenous medicines used in the villages, to the economic impact botanical medicine can have to improve a community. Equipped with the WHO priorities, our students have the opportunity to teach international public health topics to Tanzanian students. Tropical disease topics, such as malaria, dengue, TB and parasites, are studied in a country where these are significant public health issues. Students develop an understanding of social justice and community connectedness, as well as a genuine understanding of the African pace of life.

Ghana

Ghana is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies where large hospitals in the capital epitomize the impact of globalization, while rural villages live by centuries-old cultural traditions in resource-poor settings. This makes Ghana an ideal location for students interested in the application of community-based participatory research, health program development, and real-life experiences with cultural humility in the delivery of health care and social services. Set between the densely arboreal Akuapim Mountains and the bustling capital city of Accra, students are fully immersed in the rich Ghanaian culture—from local cuisine to music. Students participate in a variety of activities from collaborative learning opportunities within a local women’s organization to shadowing herbalists, midwives and doctors in both urban hospital and rural clinic settings. Through these experiences, students gain a deeper understanding of how traditional medicine and biomedicine interrelate to influence local healthcare practices.

Thailand

Thailand is unique in the world of traditional medicine. Because of its central location between China and India, two similar but different forms of medicine merged there. Classical Chinese medicine combined with Indian Ayurveda and Thai folk medicine to form Thai-vedic medicine. On this cultural immersion trip, students study and experience Thai-vedic medicine in Northern Thailand in the towns of Chiang Mai and Pai. They study Thai herbal medicine, nutrition and cooking, Thai massage and bodywork, and how Buddhist theory influences Thai-vedic medicine. This global health experience is rooted in traditional medicine and provides a personal, experiential understanding of the Thai culture and the modalities of traditional Thai medicine.

Argentina   

Trip in development

Argentina holds a rich history influenced by European immigration and indigenous traditions. One of the most progressive Latin American countries, Argentina stands as a leading example of universal healthcare. This trip places students first in the vibrant metropolitan capitol of Buenos Aires, and then in the fertile province of Misiones to the north. In Buenos Aires they engage in traditional Argentine culture, investigate the legacy of human rights issues, and consider the policy implications of healthcare access for all. In Misiones, they are folded into the rhythms of a biodynamic farm while studying native medicinal herbs and organic mate production.  They are exposed to a rare health outreach with an indigenous tribe, and examine the practices of tropical medicine.  This immersion affords an exceptional study of public health and Argentinian culture while traveling through the greatest urban and rural landscapes of the world.