Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Language Services: Much More Than Translation

pentopaperOn several occasions, I provided language services to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Office of Border Health (OBH). Among the department’s many activities, OBH coordinates binational conferences. Participating public health professionals present scientific studies and applied knowledge in an effort to improve cross-border collaboration.

 

OBH contracted me as a bilingual professional with a specialized skill set to produce binational conference proceedings. My task was to produce a comprehensive, yet succinct document summarizing the knowledge produced  during these two- to three-day events.

 

Information on binational public health was presented in both English and Spanish. Among the topics discussed were epidemiological studies, public health programs, health education, early warning systems, and information technology platforms. Presenters included representatives from U.S. and Mexican border states’ binational health commissions, US-Mexico Border Health Commission, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

My overall tasks entailed bilingual note-taking, technical translation, content curation, writing, and presenting conference proceedings in a clearly organized report format. The deliverables included: (1) full transcription of raw notes taken during each event (approximately 50 pages in length), and (2) the final report, a 15-page document on average, highlighting key concepts and summarizing the knowledge produced in plenary and parallel breakout sessions.

 

In all, I developed official proceedings for Border Binational Infectious Disease Conferences in 2010, 2011, 2012 and the Border Binational Obesity Prevention Summit in 2013. OBH published in hard copy and digitally distributed these proceedings to health practitioners and policy makers at local, state, national, and international levels.

Art Teaches Kids about Poverty

Why should we teach our children about global poverty and its challenges? Did you know half the world’s children live on less than $2 a day? (UN Human Development Report, 2011). And, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an astounding 22% of American children– 15.7 million–  are considered poor. (Kids Count data book, 2012).*

The topic of poverty is relevant to Texas “essential knowledge and skills” in a broad range of courses such as: economics, geography, government, history and culture. And, beyond the facts, it is essential that we empower our next generation of problem solvers with comprehension, compassion, and critical thinking about sustainability at home and in the developing world.

Click on this image of Rocinha to read about
the Origins of the Favela (RioOnWatch.org)

Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin, Texas is a new collaboration in development that will use art to create an interactive stage for learning. The next major installation of Brazilian artist Werllayne Nunes, planned for early 2014, will create a “life-sized” rendering of a portion of the favela, or shantytown. Approximately a dozen original oil paintings, an actual favela dwelling, documentary film, and other media will serve as resources for local educators.  Middle and high school students will have a unique opportunity to learn not only about Brazil but also about the broader social and economic challenges of living in informal settlements.

The educational component of the project is made possible through partnership with Public Engagement office of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS), University of Texas at Austin. LLILAS Public Engagement is dedicated to supporting Latin America-related K-12 education. As partner to the Favela project, Public Engagement will consult teachers on appropriate topics for classroom inclusion, create standards-based curriculum units that offer an in-depth understanding of poverty and development issues, provide training and gather resources for teachers. One to two student groups per week will visit the art installation over a three-month period reaching roughly 1,000 area middle and high school students.

Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin integrates art with education on a diverse range of topics. This means of engaging students in creative learning aims to raise awareness, challenge stereotypes, and create empathy. Not only is using art in education innovative, but it also has proven positive effects on children’s academic, social, cultural, and cognitive development.

Research performed by the Arts Education Partnership and others has demonstrated the power of art in education to develop skills and abilities such as:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Academic achievement
  • School, social and civic engagement (Arts Education Partnership)

A possible lesson plan, for example, might encourage high school students to role-play and go through group problem-solving exercises to develop solutions to specific challenges of living in a favela. Another lesson might explore the rich cultural production of the favela, especially in music, and the role arts-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played to empower youth in these communities.

In addition to school outreach, Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin will engage the community by partnering with local organizations to stage concurrent Brazil-related cultural events. The art show will remain open to the public during normal gallery hours. Austin-based social enterprise The Global Good will undertake the role of fundraising and project coordination.

While the installation itself is planned for early 2014, a number of related events or workshops, such as a possible Master Class in painting for at-risk teens, are under discussion for the interim.

For more information about the Bringing the Brazilian Favela to Austin project, contact  <info@theglobalgood.com>.

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*Poverty is defined by the U.S. government by income. The poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050 (total yearly income) for a family of four.

Recommended Reading: Why Nations Fail

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (Mar 20, 2012)

Hot off the press and at the top of my reading list (along with 1/2 dozen others…) is these economists’ view of inequality and poverty on a global scale.

Why are some countries rich while others remain poor?

Continue reading

The Power of Bill Gates

Let me qualify this post by saying that I am posing a question, not an outright criticism.

But I can’t help but wonder…who is Bill Gates and how is he is changing the face of the world not only with his money but also with his opinions on development policy and his access to world leaders?

Gates is a famous businessman (formerly the world’s richest) and, since 2006, a full-time  philanthropist.  And, thinking about it, this is one powerful guy.

Yesterday, February 24th, Gates committed $200 million dollars to helping small farmers in developing regions. Continue reading