As a part of AHANA Caucus's Social Justice Week, GlobeMed hosted a panel on Wednesday, Feb. 18, during which speakers shared their stories of social justice and how it has shaped who they are.
A student-led club on campus, GlobeMed aims to strengthen the movement for global health equity by empowering students and communities to work together to improve the health of people living in poverty around the world. Each chapter is partnered one-to-one with a grassroots health organization in one of 19 countries throughout Africa, Asia, North America and South America. Fundraising and on-site efforts at each chapter contribute to one or more of six key areas of impact: Maternal Health, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Nutrition, Income Generation, Communicable Disease Prevention and Capacity Building.
During the panel discussion, graduate and undergraduate students drew from their experiences abroad, through service and from their day-to-day lives to express how social justice has come to be an integral part of who they are. Each person had a unique experience, or collection of experiences, that contributed to their current stance on social issues.
The panel featured Phil Garrity, a PhD student in the School of Theology and Ministry (STM), who has many years of experience with Partners in Health (PIH). Professionally, Garrity speaks and writes on issues of end-of-life care and hospice care. After studying international development and Spanish at UCLA, Garrity wanted to become involved with PIH. After applying, and initially being rejected, he decided to travel to Peru anyway, where he helped to build houses and work within communities. However, he often asked himself what the “real value” was in what he was doing.
Eventually, Garrity was able to officially work with Partners in Health, allowing him to travel to countries in need and provide assistance. Yet, as he became more and more involved with the organization, he got a greater feeling that he was merely “chipping away at an iceberg.”
Garrity had a major revelation when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. After receiving treatment, he decided that the next chapter in his life was to study divinity, thus bringing him to the STM at BC. Social justice remains a part of his daily studies and work as he focuses on hospice care because he believes that too often our concern is extending life as long as possible and the idea of ending life well is an afterthought.
During the Q&A portion of the panel, Garrity spoke of the correlation between poverty and tuberculosis. He stated that there is a cure for tuberculosis, yet there is not a cure for poverty, and thus there are still people around the world who suffer from tuberculosis.
Panel member Alexandra Barrett, A&S ‘15, discussed her path to understanding what social justice is exactly. She stated that social justice is “not just talking about those who are marginalized, but knowing how we are similar to them.” Barrett also said that seeing the way others care for people in her life and the interactions with others has allowed her to define social justice as recognizing a “human’s potential.”
Eleanor Vorys, A&S ‘16, spoke about how we need to find justice from within our society and persistently push people and push issues in order to make change. Vorys, like most of the other panelists, learned through her experiences that social justice is more than what it may seem on the surface. Social justice, according to Vorys, is about going beyond just helping people and is a truly personal way of touching their lives.
Social Justice Week continues this week, culminating with World Day of Social Justice on Friday, where groups will be tabling across campus to talk about social justice issues.