Reflecting on the 2017 GROW Institute
by Shengxiao Yu, Director of Partnerships, Asia and the Americas, GlobeMed
One of the key aspects of GlobeMed’s unique partnership model is the opportunity for students to participate in Grassroots On-Site Work (GROW) internships.
Every year, each GlobeMed chapter assembles a team of three to five individuals who travel to their partner organization and community. While on site, students work as interns with their partner organizations, supporting them in various areas including marketing, fundraising, project evaluation, operations, and more. Before the students go on GROW, however, we believe that they must undergo extensive training.
The 6th Annual GROW Institute
On February 24 – 26, GlobeMed hosted at least one representative from each GROW team at GROW Institute, a conference that kicks off the season of pre-departure training. The purpose of GROW Institute is to prepare individual students to work collectively with their partners, who often have leadership cultures and practices that differ from their own.
At this year’s GROW Institute, we focused on the power of storytelling. We opened the weekend with two stories that demonstrated how power is systematically concentrated in certain hands, and how we can shift power to grassroots communities through strategic partnerships.
Through critical dialogue, students learned about the ethics and methods of capturing and telling stories using author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk ‘The Danger of a Single Story‘ as a focal point. They discussed the different voices of storytellers, and reflected on what voices tend to be heard and how we can amplify the voices that are unheard.
Following GROW Institute, student attendees brought back the knowledge they gained and shared the experience with their teams. Each GROW team will also complete an eight-week curriculum to learn more about their partner community, sharpen their communication and leadership skills, and build positive team dynamics.
How GlobeMed has seen GROWth
“Our interns shared stories from their partner communities through small group conversations. This deepened our understanding of one another, and will ultimately help build a community of people who can meaningfully collaborate together.”
–Shengxiao Yu, Director of Partnerships, Asia and the Americas at GlobeMed Global Headquarters
This year, we hosted more than 120 students from diverse backgrounds at GROW Institute who gained essential skills to allow them to have meaningful and productive GROW internships.
However, we have not always been able to do this. Six years ago, we examined our network and realized that the majority of students who completed the GROW internship had had access to sufficient financial resources and participate in this international, cross-cultural, leadership program. In order to make GROW a realistic opportunity for all students, regardless of financial ability, we partnered with USAID’s Global Health Fellows Program II (GHFP-II).
With the support of GHFP-II, GlobeMed has become one of the only organizations that provides grants to fund internships for students who would otherwise be unable to do so. GHFP-II has also enabled us to host students each year at GROW Institute without asking students to pay for the costs.
By preparing our students for the GROW internship experience, we can ensure that their perspectives are challenged, and that they can more confidently participate in their partners’ activities and greater communities. This will deepen their understanding of the larger forces that shape global health, and ultimately prepare them to become well-rounded 21st century leaders.
For more about this year’s GROW Institute, please see our Storify here. To keep up with our students during their GROW internships, follow the hashtag #GROWCommunity17.