Throughout my life, I have always held high respect for all people all around no matter their background. Giving individuals a space to express themselves through various mediums is a crucial part of understanding the needs of a community. With this belief comes the understanding that there are harsh disparities amongst communities worldwide. The stereotypical “have” and “have nots” is not enough to be able to grasp the extremes of the spectrum of situations in varying levels of wealth, not only from individual people but also from towns to countries. Unfortunately, people are born into unequal situations and they are expected to pull themselves out of it. Having the privilege that I have of living in America, I want to be able to speak with others and understand what I can do to aid in their quest for success. However, it is important to note that the same places that lack “wealth” are often the ones that are the richest in love, culture, and unity, considering these factors I know I have much to learn from all sides of the spectrum of wealth.
Through the Global Social Impact Fellowship (GSIF), I know I will learn what it means to make an impact in someone else’s community. Although we can consider Earth as one extensive community, which gives all the more reason to engage with the world around us. GSIF is an opportunity to create sustainable solutions to real-world problems, making it a unique experience to normal class scenarios where one may come up with aimless solutions. The project I am currently in, Community Engagement and Environmental Initiatives in Kazakhstan, is in its early stages which means an ample amount of RESEARCH. This piques my interest since it is an opportunity to learn about a new environment while gaining critical thinking skills. Another factor of the GSIF is that students obtain valuable interpersonal skills in a global context. Essentially, it does not matter what major one is in the skills I will gain; I will be able to apply these skills in virtually all forms of work. However, as a student who is interested in environmental studies, I hope to gain more insight over current events that are impacting the environment, along with what we can do now to prevent or promote certain movements.
An example where critical thinking needs to be used in this case study:
The World Health Organization estimates that over one billion people who need eyeglasses do not have access to them. The vast majority of these people live in developing countries like Kenya where there is barely one optometrist per one million people. Given the high poverty levels, access to eyeglasses is almost nonexistent. Lack of proper eyeglasses severely impacts people and their livelihoods by decreasing their productivity at work, limiting or eliminating new opportunities, affecting their quality of life, deteriorating their general health and possibly leading to (preventable) blindness. What solution do you propose to address this problem?
To answer this question there needs to be an understanding of several factors: the health insurance that is available if any; the current state of the country’s economy; the dynamic of the community in terms unity and hierarchy; the level of education the people there typically obtain; the types of jobs that are available; and the severity of the eye problems. There needs to be a holistic approach that looks at all factors.
There can be low-tech trained nurses within the community, potentially volunteers that receive training on how to diagnose those who need eyeglasses or vision care. From here there are several options, although there needs to be more extensive research on the community and interviewing of those impacted by the lack of glasses.
One of the options is partnering up with eyeglass companies where they have a system that allows people to receive eyeglasses when others purchase eyeglasses. This is a less sustainable option; however, it may be an option that can be set in place for a short period of time while the community creates a more substantial solution.
Another option is to set up a business where those in the community can make the glasses themselves and sell to others. This would not only bring capital to the community by also provide the people with closer proximity to the glasses. As part of the company, they assure that there is a minimum amount of glasses being given to the community. If the community expands there is growth for having an on-sight optometrist/ clinic as part of the company.
I am excited to learn how to improve upon my way of thinking about solutions through this program!