Jun 12, 2017

Summer Intern Series: Mariana Forero, Communications

This summer, we’re excited to welcome five interns to Global Headquarters! Hailing from four GlobeMed chapters from across the country, these interns will serve as integral parts of GlobeMed’s work as we expand our technology platforms, grow our communications and partnerships strategy, and gear up for another year of chapter engagement and support.

Our first summer intern at Global Headquarters is Mariana Forero, who will be working on Communications. As a rising senior at the University of Virginia who has been involved with GlobeMed since her freshman year, Mariana believes that it is possible to make a real impact in the world by staying connected to one another and recognizing the influence of power dynamics in every aspect of our lives. Learn more about her below.

Mariana Forero

Chapter: GlobeMed at the University of Virginia
Major: Global Development Studies
Year: 2017
Hometown: Rocky Mount, North Carolina

What’s your story?

That’s a really hard question to answer… so I think I’m going to cheat a bit and instead, talk about something that’s been on my mind a lot this past year. As a student in the Global Development Studies (GDS) major at UVa, I’ve just started taking some core GDS classes. Since the start of my very first class, my mindset about the world and about global development has been turned upside down, thrown into a wall and punched a few times. By this I mean that I’ve learned so much that has been really hard to swallow – a lot of which critiques students like me who often come into this major to “jump-start our careers” within the international development sphere.

GDS is a bit different in that it’s a major that focuses on the critical aspect of education. So, we learn a lot of development theory, we’ve learned about the history of development, we’ve learned how to read an article or book and critique it, and we’ve learned a lot what harmful development looks like. We’ve learned that the institution of development came about in order to oppress people in a way that made those who implemented it look like they are “saving the world”. We’ve read about how our lives here in the US, even without being within the development sphere just yet, are deeply connected with those that are most marginalized. Overall, through this major I’ve come to see that the world is a deeply unequal place that has historically oppressed the same peoples over and over again in different ways. Most of the time, the oppression happens without anyone knowing who is to blame, it being just a “way of life.” Almost all of the times, it’s the result of a chain of events and decisions that place value on a certain group of people and devalue others that create this oppression in the form of social inequities.

Needless to say, other GDS students and I often leave our classes feeling like there’s nothing we can do to change these systems. We’ve learned time and time again that we are all deeply embedded within systems that connect us to the oppression that we critique. We are who we should be critiquing, and that’s a hard fact to face. I’ve had times when I feel like no matter what I do, or decide to do after graduating, I will be helping perpetuate systems that end up harming so many others around the world. And I still believe that unless someone lives in a way that is completely disconnected from other people and the connections that globalization provides, there is no way that I (a white middle-class American) can live without causing some kind of harm to others down the line. This mindset, though ultimately true, can end up creating paralysis, making you feel numb to the suffering that surrounds you. I myself have felt this way many times before. However, I’ve come to learn that you can either think about these connections in a pessimistic way or in a optimistic way. We are deeply connected to everyone around us. We can choose to think about the negatives that this connection causes or about the positive change that we can create instead. For me, it’s obvious that as a person with privilege, I need to do something in life that allows me to use it to help others.

This is why I’ve come to love GlobeMed and the mission that we are working towards. The model that GlobeMed pushes forward provides a form of hope for me – a way to fight these systems in a meaningful, thoughtful, and (most importantly) a non- “white-savior complex” kind of way. It uses partnerships, reciprocal relationships, and knowledge exchange to create a network that is advancing the mission of global health equity.

How has GlobeMed fit into that picture up to this point? What roles have you played in your chapter?

It’s crazy how much GlobeMed has shaped who I am today, especially considering how I joined on a complete whim during a activities fair during my first week at UVa! I joined GlobeMed at UVa as freshman. Then, during the summer after my first year, I went to Cambodia to visit our partner organization, the Build Your Future Today Center, through a Grassroots Onsite Work (GROW) internship. During my second year, I had the role of Partnerships Chair. I became a UVa chapter co-president the following year, and am now a as a Communications Intern at GlobeMed Global Headquarters. To add on top of all of that, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to go to most of GlobeMed’s events such as Summit, GROW Institute and Leadership Institute, which have all been so rewarding in so many different ways. There’s really no way I can encapsulate all that I’ve learned and received from being part of the GlobeMed network throughout these years. In a nutshell, GlobeMed has given me hope and optimism for a more compassionate and equitable future.

What sparked your interest in this summer internship and what you’ll be doing here at the Global Headquarters.

For me, it was just common sense to apply to intern at GlobeMed. GlobeMed is such a huge part of my life during the school year, so why not take that GlobeMed love into the summer? I was so ready to apply that I actually filled out my application on the very day that the application was released! Using media to share positive stories has always been an interest for me. Without communications, how is the world supposed to know about all the amazing work that organizations like GlobeMed do? I’ve only been here for a week so far, but I’ve already learned so much! This summer I’ll primarily be charge of creating the GlobeMed 2017 Year In Review video. Videos will be my main focus during the weeks I’m here. Nevertheless, I’ll be helping out with whatever else is needed such as work involving the monthly newsletter, managing social media, and looking at the communications data.

My big goal for the summer is to find ways to bridge the gap between students within GlobeMed chapters and the staff who are working tirelessly here at Global HQ. I know that before I met some of the staff here personally, I was not exactly sure about the kind of work that is done here, and so knowing this now I feel like would be a great way to make the network even stronger. I’m lucky because I’ve been able to get a glimpse into some of the behind-the-scenes work that happens here, which has been really insightful. To be able to meet the staff who are tasked with running all the different parts that connect the whole network has been immensely humbling. I don’t know how they do it, and do it so well! All in all, I’m super excited to be interning here for the next 10 weeks! Hopefully I’ll be able to create content that will help me give back to an organization that has given me so much.

Words: Mariana Forero. Photo: Balungile Belz

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