Monday, September 20, 2010

Paul Farmer is my homeboy

A story to start things off: The first course I took at Macalester was titled Cellular Biology and Genetics I: Human Disease. I remember flipping through the pages of that huge binder that holds the course catalog (and information on practically every single class offered at Mac), and thinking, "huh. I wonder what that means, exactly.... Sounds pretty cool. Might as well sign up." I entered my first year at Mac expecting to follow the Pre-Med track. I was "good" at Biology in high school, enjoyed my chemistry class, and thought, "well, why not?" So, I sat in on Prof. Chatterjea's class and absolutely fell in love. Now, I don't mean to sound trite, but I seriously loved that class. It was a riveting topic (come on, infectious diseases are pretty darn cool, man!), and we approached the class in a completely foreign way to me. We talked about the biology, geography, sociology and anthropology of human diseases. The interdisciplinary nature of medicine had never been seriously brought to my attention, and upon being exposed to it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I wanted to take every Medical Anthropology class available. Prof. Chatterjea brought the topic of global health to my attention, and it has stayed with me ever since. As a senior Biology (and German Studies double) major, I'm considering a career in public health.

So, as you can imagine, when I heard that Paul Farmer, the physical, human proof of the pairing of medicine and medical anthropology, would be speaking at Macalester's Opening Convocation, I was super excited!!! What really struck me during Dr. Farmer's talk was his humanity.
Dr. Farmer had incredible stories to share from his most recent trips to Haiti, which really put faces to the statistics most often recited when speaking of the January earthquake. He is a charismatic, humble and personable individual. He blended the powerful message of global health, and our responsibility as members of the international community with some light-hearted jokes about Minnesota being the Siberia of the US. I felt very lucky to hear him speak, and I'm so glad Macalester was able to sponsor such a wonderful speaker for Convocation!

In a side note: Hearing the bagpipes during Convocation really tugged at my heart! I totally forgot how much I missed hearing them while I was abroad! I couldn't help thinking, "man, it feels good to be home!!" Cheesy, I know, but it's my last year, shouldn't I be this sentimental? Or is it too early to be feeling nostalgic? I guess it is only September... whoops! Whatever.

But, seriously, what a wonderful way to start my senior year at Mac! A terrific speaker for Convocation, a celebrity sighting of President Rosenberg outside the Campus Center, and a fantastic first full week of classes-- what more could a girl ask for? (Maybe some warm-ish weather until at least the middle of October? Or is that taking it too far? Haha.)