Just before they left ‘for the field’ (as anthropologists would say!), I asked the ‘SOLACE sisters’ (their term!) what they each considered their ‘three traits’ they would use most as the project’s global health student ambassadors. Here is what they said!
Danielle (Dani) Josefa F. Uayan
I am a very determined person. ‘Giving up’ is a phrase I never really liked, and tenacity and drive to improve are things that I’ve always valued in myself and other people. I believe that this particular trait has taken me to greater heights more than intelligence or talent ever could, and it would serve as a powerful ally in any situation I would be involved in. Secondly, I am resourceful. There were many excursions during my undergraduate years that prompted us to think outside of the box, and I have found that I generally do well in situations where I have to apply the things I have learned, even if we had little resources in the field. Finally, I am also very enthusiastic in learning. I love taking up challenges where I am placed in a new environment, where I would be able to learn something new and enhance my abilities. I am always grateful for every opportunity that would allow me to learn from other people, and be given the responsibility to share the knowledge I have acquired with others. It would be an immense challenge, and consequently a great source of joy, to be able to contribute in meeting SOLACE’s objectives. If chosen, I will certainly do my part, and I have the confidence that I would do them well.
One of the most important qualities for me to have would be prior knowledge, having some understanding of the politics and cultures across the Philippines before I go. I think this will help me when talking with families in order to be able to form questions that enable me to have in depth conversations, as well as to empathise and understand what it is like to be living in the rural Philippines. My second trait would be to become more observant and pick up on things which wouldn’t have necessarily been spoken about and then to ask questions about everything that I notice. For instance, a local doctor told that they recognised the smell of ointment on a local cyclist which he was using for backache. I thought that this was so simple but very beneficial to the anthropologist who is now aware that this is the case for many of the taxi cyclists. My final trait would be to make records of everything! I will take notes, videos, voice recordings and drawings whenever possible so that I do not forget what I learn. I plan to keep a field book which is a skill in itself! Hopefully it will be full of stories and amazing experiences which will help me when I am back in the UK and stay with me forever.
Syra (Sai) Marie Norin A. Petalio
I am street-smart, capable of communicating well and adjusting to the community. I am also very sensitive to the needs of the people around me and am very dependable. I do not leave people behind and I will make sure we are all on the same page and moving at the same pace so that no one feels left alone or taken for granted. I am charismatic and I give people the credit they deserve. However, I am also capable of bringing people up to task and telling them when they need to work on things a bit more. This also applies to myself. I know what I can give and when it feels like I’m not meeting that, I know when and how to make the necessary adjustments. Years of experience have taught me to be adaptable to changes and flexible with plans. I like planning ahead of time but I am just as able to go with the flow and work with what is given or what is available. I can work and set schedules as well as adhere to them and hold others accountable to do so as well. It is also important to strike a balance between work and play in order to not get the people I work with too strung on the goal that they forget to notice the journey. I am always up for any challenge and I am always willing to help out wherever I am needed. I am also very willing to learn and consistently deliver quality work.
I think the three traits that will help me in my #WeAreSolace journey are reflectiveness, empathy and optimism. I am very optimistic and like to exude energy when I work! I have always been a very positive person. I think that the enthusiasm that comes alongside optimism is infectious and can inspire others and drive change. I always ‘see the good’ in everything and am always looking for silver linings no matter the circumstances. Although I sound almost unbearably cheerful, having oodles of optimism means that I am full of hope; hope for humanity and hope for a fairer future for everyone. Empathy: this is so important in global health as the circumstances surrounding life are so varied that being able to listen to another human being who is sharing their story with you and show compassion and kindness to them transcends borders and politics. Being able to empathise with an individual enables you to understand the myriad of events and experiences that shape their life, and the less tangible characteristics and qualities that tell you something about who they are; their feelings, views and beliefs. I would also describe myself as very reflective. I think deeply about my experiences and consider what I can learn from them and what they can tell me about the world. Thoughtfulness will really help with ethnography as understanding the unique habitus of people, much like little pieces of the jigsaw, will allow a more detailed picture of a global community and the factors that act upon it to be understood as a whole. Being reflective will help me to see the intrinsic behaviours and beliefs of those found within a particular microcosm, and consider their dynamics and interactions when viewed as part of a collective.