Thursday’s exciting and enthusiastic opening dinner proved to be the perfect foreshadowing for what was to come throughout the rest of the weekend. Seeing Brown University’s partner organization, U-Tena, demonstrated exactly how powerful music can be. U-Tena uses music, dance, and theater to educate rural Kenyan populations about HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, and other such issues, making it possible for people of all ages and educational backgrounds to learn about and understand these issues that are often considered too taboo to be discussed openly. Through their performance they showed that a common language is not necessary for conveying passion and communion. Human connection can be shared through music alone, whether or not the words being sung are understood by everyone present. The energy in the room was tangible, as was the love that we all felt for each other and the rest of humanity during U-Tena’s performance. It is not something that I, and I would imagine many others, will forget any time soon.
The first organized panel was on racial injustice, and I can honestly say that it was the most powerful and eye-opening thing that I have ever experienced at a GlobeMed event. The personalities on the panel were diverse and eloquent, intelligent and fierce, some even angry, and deservedly so. Dr. Kai Green, a strong advocate in the Black Trans community and the LGBT community as a whole, read a deeply personal and ferocious poem on the injustice that he and so many others experience day in and day out because of their skin color, their sexual orientation, their gender identity. His voice was crisp and clear and haunting. His message rang through the air, unforgettable, impossible to ignore – a call that all in attendance felt compelled to act upon. He didn’t beat around the bush or downplay his descriptions of the injustice that he and so many others experience every single day of their lives, nor did he downplay his anger at the lack of responsive action to such violence from people outside the black community.
These two events were the ones that shaped my Summit experience the most, but every programming event had something unique, something special to contribute to the weekend. The hugely diverse array of speakers and panelists brought to attention a wide array of opinions and experiences that may not be heard all in the same room anywhere else. If nothing else, this Summit reminded me of all the work that I still have to do. Not only the kind of work that we think of when we normally think of GlobeMed – communicating with SAW, planning GROW trips, working for social justice throughout the world – but also work within myself. Why do I believe what I believe, and what stereotypes or judgments do I hold that I may not even be aware of? How does my privilege affect the work that I do, in GlobeMed, in school, in my interactions with others in my community? I left Summit this year with the goal of reflecting deeply upon all of these questions, with the hope that the answers I find as I search within myself will allow me to become a better leader and advocate for change as I continue my work with GlobeMed and onward into the rest of my life.