Witnessing to Hope: A Reflection on the Global Health Equity Symposium
Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ
Sacred Heart Educators hope to form young people on a path towards transformation and hope by providing an effective education and the formation of character. For Sacred Heart educators this cultivation of virtues is informed by the charism of St. Madeleine Sophie and the values articulated in the Goals and Criteria. We believe that nothing short of excellence will ensure that the members of learning communities develop an informed, active faith, critical thinking and service to others. Excellence is nurtured through curriculum planning that focuses of the dynamic of learning both in and outside the classroom.
Global health is a multidisciplinary and collaborative field that embraces transnational research and action to promote global health for all. This field includes socio-economic, environmental and cultural factors which may directly or indirectly affect health matters. The symposium was rooted in the assumption that education may be one of the most important tools as part of an overall strategy to eliminate healthcare disparities.
How do we prepare our students to contribute their gifts and use their talents in a quickly changing global society? The designers of the symposium believe that if we expose young people to global issues and educate them to comprehend and explore the solutions that are critically needed, we will facilitate their journey to become globally aware citizens who strive to affect social change. This program provided all participants to see that in and through the visible world in which we live, we come to know and experience the invisible God working through persons, events, and physical things. Through the stories of many of the guest speakers including the student presenters, participants’ spirit, mind and imagination were sparked.
The symposium opened with a screening of the award-winning documentary, “Bending the Arc.” The film tells the story of Partners in Health and the ways in which a small group of doctors and activists successfully fight to bring modern healthcare to the poorest people in the world. Among the speakers featured in the Symposium are Dr. Paul Farmer, Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Partners in Health, and Mr. Jonny Dorsey, Sacred Heart alumnus and former White House Fellow at the Department of Education, where he worked in the Secretary’s Office on special projects and strategic partnerships. Currently he serves as Director of Innovation and Policy at the Emerson Collective, a social good organization committed to education, immigration reform, the environment, and other social justice initiatives. The program also included an amazing panel among whom included Dr. Antonia Eyssellenne, Program Director of the Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, and Dr. Erin Kobetz, University of Miami (UM) Miller School of Medicine inaugural Senior Associate Dean for Health Disparities, and the Associate Director for Population Science and Cancer Disparity for the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Most impressive is that the many of the breakout sessions were run by Carrollton students and faculty who had worked together in preparing a wide range of interdisciplinary presentations to help participants comprehend the dilemma posed by health disparities and poverty.
Why am I blogging about this today? During Easter, we hear the stories of the early disciples inspired by their first-hand experience with the Risen Christ. They go out into the world to announce the extraordinary news that Christ is Risen, and they act on behalf of the common good by helping those in the greatest need. How do we in 2018 experience this Risen Christ? Watching the student and adult presenters and participants at the symposium encourage one another to comprehend the impact of poverty on global health equity was a constant reminder that the Risen Christ acts through us. The presenters like the early disciples gave witness to the power of God’s grace in our lives. Attentive to the Spirit dwelling within our hearts, we respond. Presentation after presentation pointed to the impact of God’s grace as it initiates our actions and assists us in becoming people of service grounded in love, mirroring attitudes of Christ’s Heart such as respect, compassion, forgiveness and generosity.
Programs such as this one remind all of us that whether in the classroom, on the athletic field, or in the chapel, ideally Sacred Heart students learn to think and act according to the mind and attitudes of Christ’s Heart. It is within such a grace-filled atmosphere that our students are challenged to achieve their full potential as human beings impelled to act on behalf of others. In the end this is what the Risen Christ calls us all to be.
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Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools. Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.