By, Annie A. ’21
As a preface, I think this Global Forum was awesome. Throughout the days leading up to Global Forum, I heard more and more groans and grumbling about “disease week.” I get that for people who aren’t interested in the fields of medicine and public health, an illness-focused week isn’t the most exciting. For me, however, I found the week’s theme fascinating. For example, I really enjoyed the workshops: I feel that although they were short, those three one-hour sessions opened up entirely new worlds to me. I didn’t even know it was possible to create proteins using cell-free solutions (essentially a mix of cytoplasm and ribosomes, two components of cells), let alone understand how the process works and the endless opportunities it brings for diagnosis and treatment. By the end of the workshop, we had made our own bioluminescent protein solutions using jellyfish DNA.
Having this year’s forum focused on disease was vital in getting as many people as possible excited. Obviously, anyone interested in medicine and public health had something to look forward to, but this year’s forum also engaged those interested in technology, engineering, and human rights, as the curriculum calls for a combination of approaches in different fields. However, I do acknowledge that many of the diseases we studied and attempted to alleviate felt very detached. Rani B. ’21 noted that she “enjoyed the Global Forum and seeing the process of looking at a community and finding solutions, but I preferred the last Global Forum because we could make a more realistic impact. This year it was less realistic unless we had medical experience or wanted to be doctors.”
Although trash is an important topic, I think as the structure of Global Forum develops, goals change, and focuses become more encompassing, it has improved. As Reah D. ’21 noted, the 2019 Global Forum was “better than trash week.”
As a building group, my team of five freshmen and sophomores had opportunities to use the iLab and Winsor’s many other tech and engineering-related resources. The intersectionality of our project became incredibly apparent to me as we soldered and used a laser cutter in attempts to help eradicate a neglected disease perpetuated by conditions associated with poverty.
Between workshops, research, designing and prototyping, and presenting, I felt that the 2019 Global Forum was truly an all-encompassing experience. I noticed that by having students of different grades with different goals all in one room, the ideas and discussion surrounding the improvement of living conditions multiplied as each student identified different root causes of inequality and illnesses.
I’ve heard suggestions that we use the week of Global Forum for a “student health week” or to address other issues. While there are dozens of different ways we could all spend Global Forum, I think that focusing on one topic and trying to solve a problem is actually an incredibly effective way for us to learn new skills and information. Everyone had different experiences, but I learned more about the hundreds of epidemics plaguing our world in five dedicated days that I could have on my own or in a class.
Furthermore, I commend the Global Forum Student Committee as well as all faculty and staff members involved in bringing this event to life and for their hard work and dedication—it paid off.