The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Program (QES) aims to build a dynamic community of young global leaders in Canada and across the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth Scholars engage in projects both at home and abroad, encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences. Queen Elizabeth Scholars undertake projects that provide meaningful learning experiences, with the potential to create lasting impact. Dalhousie University has teamed up with its partners in the Caribbean, Uganda and Tanzania to develop an international student mobility project, funded by QES, for current Dalhousie students and students in other Commonwealth countries looking to study at Dal. The Global Health Office manages the relationship between our partner associations and Dalhousie, collaborating with many units across campus, and within the QES network, to make these projects possible.
We recently sat down with two Queen Elizabeth Scholars who are both heading to Tanzania this summer, Matt Jalink (Intern) and Keisha Jefferies (Scholar), to learn about their projects.
Tell us about yourselves in 30 seconds or less!
Keisha: I’m from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, born and raised. I went to Mount Saint Vincent University to take a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. I decided I wanted to go into nursing, so after my Biology degree I came to Dalhousie. I worked for two years in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at the IWK Health Centre. After that, I decided it was time to go back to school and I enrolled in the Master’s of Nursing program here at Dal, and I am currently finishing up my first year. I’m in the health policy practicum as part of that program, so I’m looking to do some work around administration, policies and programming, both at the local and global level. I am interested in maternal and newborn health, which came from my experience working in the NICU. Outside of academics, I love to play basketball and do yoga.
Matt: I’m originally from Calgary, but I moved around a lot when I was younger. I did my undergraduate degree here at Dalhousie in Biochemistry. I had a pretty keen interest in health, but I wanted to get outside of the lab and experience research from a social perspective. This led me to the Master’s of Community Health & Epidemiology program at Dalhousie, which I thought was an excellent fit. I just finished my first year in that program, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’ve completed all of my course requirements, so now I’m focusing on my thesis. I’ll be conducting research on pediatric respiratory tract infections. My interest in pediatrics was fueled by my previous experiences working as a camp counsellor and sailing instructor. In my spare time I’m an avid rock climber, and I enjoy playing pool as much as I can.
What projects are you undertaking in Tanzania this summer as QES interns/scholars?
Matt: I will be undertaking an internship with Pastoral Activities and Services for people with AIDS Dar es Salaam Archdiocese (PASADA). I had a meeting with my preceptor recently where we discussed potential projects. There is a project on tuberculosis and HIV co-infection currently underway, with a number of sites around Dar es Salaam participating in data collection. I will be involved with data analysis, and subsequently writing a report on the findings. I will also be drafting a number of proposals for future research studies that will hopefully begin during my stay. These projects will use qualitative research methods, and will be focused on pediatrics. One of the topics we hope to explore is non-compliance to antiretroviral drugs (ARV), and social factors influencing this non-compliance.
Keisha: I will be working at Muhimbili University of Health Sciences (MUHAS), where there is currently a qualitative study underway looking at nurse midwives’ and physicians’ perspectives on post-partum care in the community and hospital, using a feminist post-structural approach. I may be involved in the analysis piece of that project until it is complete. After that, I will be working on a research proposal related to the mother’s perspective of post-partum care in the community and hospital. That’s all I know at the moment, but my projects might change based on need!
What do you hope to accomplish and/or gain through these internships?
Keisha: I’m hoping to gain research experience. Coming from a practice background, I’m mostly involved with bedside nursing at the moment, so I don’t have a lot of experience in any sort of research (analysis, data collection, etc.). I haven’t done a lot of travel in the past, so I’m looking to gain some new perspectives related to different cultures, and ways of practicing nursing and healthcare. The work I will be doing has significant implications for the way we go about delivering maternal care throughout pregnancy, during the postpartum period, and for women in general. Although the work is focused locally in Tanzania, I think the concepts would be transferable here in Canada.
Matt: Similar to Keisha, I don’t have a ton of experience in research. It will be nice to apply a number of the course-based skills I have gained in a workplace scenario. I’ve always had a really keen interest in Global Health, and I’ve been fortunate enough to do some travelling in past, but any chance I have to travel more and apply my health interest to that is ideal. I love trying to pick up new languages and learn about new cultures, so while I’m there I’m going to try to build on the limited Swahili I picked up the last time I was in Tanzania. Despite HIV having a very prominent spotlight, there are some aspects that aren’t as well explored or researched. There is a fair amount of focus on biological mechanisms, and the pathophysiology of the virus, but my research will take a more qualitative approach. We will look at aspects such as how children born with the virus are living and dealing with a debilitative condition.
What did you do to prepare for this experience?
Matt: Through the Global Health Office there were a number of pre-departure training sessions that were very helpful. These sessions covered adapting to a new culture, living and working in a different healthcare system, and much more. I also took a Global Health course this year with Shawna O’Hearn through the MSc. Community Health & Epidemiology program, which proved very beneficial in learning about different healthcare systems – how to think conscientiously about your practices versus practices in different countries. I have been trying to become as fluent as I can in Swahili, so I can be more of an asset. Having been to Tanzania before is helpful in knowing what to expect when I arrive.
Keisha: Said Msabaha and the rest of the Global Health Office have been extremely helpful throughout this whole process. Like Matt mentioned, the pre-departure sessions were very beneficial. There is also a pre-departure workshop series that I just finished today on BBLearn. I’ve met with a fellow student who is doing her PhD at the University of Ottawa, and has been to Tanzania three times. We had a discussion on what to expect, and she gave me some tips and techniques! She has been involved with some of the researchers that I will be working with, and has been to MUHAS. I’ve also met with a few Dalhousie professors who have travelled to Tanzania to learn more about what to expect when I arrive. The Travel Clinic nurse was also very helpful in getting everything set up.
What do you think describes an effective partnership?
Matt: One key part of an effective partnership is communication – making sure everyone is on the same page. Ensuring you are respectful of each other’s ideas and practices, and understanding that the way you do something isn’t necessarily the way other people do the same thing.
Keisha: Definitely communication, and meeting people where they are. It’s not effective to try and impose your own ideas or beliefs on others. Embracing the differences and diversity that’s already there is key.
Why are you interested in Global Health?
Matt: Global Health combines two things I am really interested in: travel and health. Any opportunity you have to experience another culture helps us learn and grow. There are different practices, traditions, and ways to do things. Looking at health through different cultural lenses really interests me.
Keisha: I would like to become a global citizen and take this opportunity to enhance partnerships and relationships, as well as contribute to global maternal and newborn health. I’m really interested in learning what other people are doing, either differently or similarly, to what we do here in Nova Scotia.
Both Keisha and Matt would like to thank the Canadian Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Program for funding their internships in Tanzania this summer. We wish them the best of luck with this amazing opportunity to grow and learn. Check back with our blog in September for a post-internship update!
The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) is managed through a unique partnership of Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF),Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) and Canadian Universities. This program is made possible with financial support from the Government of Canada, provincial governments and the private sector.