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8/29/14 - "Traveling. Transforming. Transcending." by Rhoda Moise

Traveling. Transforming. Transcending.

by Rhoda Moise

Rhoda Moise received an ARC research grant in Fall 2013 for her project entitled "Culturally Grounded Narratives for Diabetes Management and Prevention".

Flag of Senegal

After 36 days abroad, I have learned so much about myself, humanity, and life overall. First and foremost, I must thank the Africana Research Center, Schreyer Honors College, Multicultural Resource Center, and the College of Health and Human Development for their support in my research endeavors this summer. My project entitled "Culturally Grounded Narratives for Diabetes Management and Prevention" has been exhausting, yet exhilarating.

The hospital provided diabetic patients with a card informing individuals of how to help if experiencing hypoglycemia

The hospital provided diabetic patients with a card informing individuals of how to help if experiencing hypoglycemia.

In general, diabetes is becoming an increasing public health problem in Senegal, with older individuals, women and those who are overweight bearing most of the burden. Given the increasing burden of diabetes and chronic disease in SSA, my work has the potential to improve diabetes management and resulting diabetes death and disability. For example, we came across a 67 year old male with an amputated toe as a result of his poor diabetes management.

Foot

Through culturally grounded narrative interviews, this research explores what exercise means to Senegalese individuals in order to help manage diabetic interventions. Under the mentorship of Dr. Rhonda BeLue, this approach will also contribute to the field of health promotion by advancing a theoretical framework for delivering culturally competent health in West African cultures. More specifically, the purpose of my project is to identify culturally-grounded diabetes management narratives focused on exercise among diabetic patients in MBour, Senegal.

We had the opportunity to attend a traditional Senegalese wedding!

We had the opportunity to attend a traditional Senegalese wedding!

Dr. Rhonda BeLue was praised and awarded for her work in Mbour, Senegal after a day-long diabetes screening held at the local hospital

Dr. Rhonda BeLue was praised and awarded for her work in Mbour, Senegal after a day-long diabetes screening held at the local hospital!

My work has been extremely fulfilling. I traveled around the community with two other nutrition students, a medical student, and Papa Eliaj (our Wolof translator and so much more <3, but he deserves an entire blog post) to conduct the diabetes interviews.

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We ran into these young kings rather regularly as we traveled through the neighborhood for home visit interviews. In honor of our last day of interviews, we decided to take a picture for the memories!

We ran into these young kings rather regularly as we traveled through the neighborhood for home visit interviews. In honor of our last day of interviews, we decided to take a picture for the memories!

The individuals with diabetes WANT help... They WANT to know diet recommendations... They WANT to exercise more... They WANT to live healthy lives. While my work may not be able to directly change issues such as accessibility/affordability, the conversation generated through these interviews is a start. This fieldwork also helped frame my ultimate aspirations to improve chronic disease care and management in Haiti. The native language in Senegal is Wolof and the country is Francophone; moreover, I have been capitalizing on the opportunity to enhance my verbal skills. As I speak Creole, I can understand French pretty well; however, producing the language cohesively is somewhat troublesome. Overall, this abroad experience allows me to develop my French and vision for diabetes management and prevention methodology, both of which are directly applicable to m future aspirations in relation to Haitian health!

Diabetes screening day: I spoke about the importance of exercise in relationship to diabetes and ways to satisfy physical activity requirements.

Diabetes screening day: I spoke about the importance of exercise in relationship to diabetes and ways to satisfy physical activity requirements.

This invaluable 5 week experience has forced me to grow personally by pushing my limits of Western comfort passed my perceived limits. Comfort isn't a primary need. It pales in comparison to satisfying hunger and satiating thirst. The purpose of life evades our acknowledgement... suffocated by the overbearing white noise of luxury. The country of hospitality, Senegal, has forced me to grow in ways I could never have imagined…

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There have been nights where I could not sleep because the buzz of mosquitoes jolted me from my sweaty slumber. There have been days where I have lost grasp of the last time I have showered. Amid trying to study for my GREs for graduate school and submit abstracts before conference deadlines with fickle Wi-Fi and prohibitive electrical access, I have fended off numerous anxiety attacks. I have grown professionally by cultivating a critical research lens in the field. I am now able to effectively conduct interviews in another language, a skill which will be invaluable for my future career aspirations. Through the people I have come across, albeit research participants, my colleagues, taxi drivers, hospital security, etc., humanity has reintroduced itself as an endearingly selfless entity. Life has reminded me of its definition and purpose: to experience. There's absolutely nothing like bringing your dreams to fruition. Traveling. Transforming. Transcending.

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