Me and the family I lived with in rural Tanzania, Arusha District. (Rebecca and her baby Frida)
More about me:
1. Who am I and what do I do?
I am a public Health student just finishing up my Masters at the IH department at Boston University. I am fascinated with development human rights and health internationally. I hope to work in research in public health and medeical anthropology or as a diplomat. Currently I work as a research assistant for a a Law and Public Health professor at Northeastern University, and as a administrative coordinator for the Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights.
2. My country of origin, places I've lived, my background...
I am from Russia originally (Novosibirsk) and I think this cultural background brings some insight into my public health studies. My city in south central siberia, although it is the third biggest city in Russia, it has been and continues to be quite marginalized from economic benefits and developments that Moscow and St petersburg have seen throughout the Soviet union, and post USSR. Also my country has some of the worst health indicators out of the developed world (highest amount of tobacco smokers in the world, worst depression rate, highest male suicide rate.. etc). In addition Putin's administration continues to perpetrate human rights violations against innocent victims in our own country, as well as support human rights perpetrators abroad. So we have a lot to improve. I moved to Calfiornia with my family, and I lived there in the silicon valley (here my parents still live) and then I lived in Los Angeles where I was attending UCLA. I have also spent many summers in France studying French and I have lived in Tanzania for 2 months. At the end of my public health masters I went to Aswan, Egypt to work as an Intern for Management Science for Health for a few months. Living in Southern Egypt post-revolution was an eye-opening experience that built character, as well as helped me learn so much about public health and human rights, the arabic language and a new culture.
3. What was going on in my life that caused me to want to be a student at Boston University?
I was doing Neuroscience research at an Epilepsy lab at UCLA and I realized that i would be happier doing research that involved people, not just lab rats. This is when I first heard of public health and I scrambled to get experience in public health, getting two internships with public health organizations in los Angeles. With Peer Health Exchange I taught underprivileged teens at high school in east LA about the dangers of drug abuse. With Healthy Child Healthy World I worked on environmental health dangers to young children and mothers. I then realized that my passion lay in international public health and BU had the best program for this in my opinion. This is why I decided to pursue a masters in International Public Health. I still think I want to do research in this field and I am hoping I will be able to get PhD in public Health on the West coast after this program
4. The most important aspect of my life is...
Family and friends are number one, after which comes closely the work that I do for other people. I want to work in something that is meaningful and has some positive impact on others in the world. I need to feel free to travel and pursue the open life style that I like to have, and at the same time do meaningful work.
5. Some of the major influences on my life are...
My sister, Tatiana, is one of the most influential people in my life. She is one of the most generous and smart people that I Know. Besides that, I also really look up to Muhammad Yunus who I think has created one of the most promising avenues out of poverty- micro credit banks. I really look up to his innovation and hope I can apply that in the future in my work. I also really look up to people who impact communities and are the social and cultural centers of their communities, whether this be in a health way or related to music and art.
6. What are some of the most inspiring career experiences that I have experienced?
INterning with management Science for Health in Aswan, Egypt was an extrordonary and ficculut expereince. The project that I was workign on was a Leadership and Develpoment progject aimed at improving the local health by improving nurse performace. The Project has exepriecned wide success and seeing how ordinary nurses with not much more education than sometimes a few years in ursing school were able to decrease child mortality in their shole district by half was awe inspiring and very motivational. The effect that a little bit of leadership training and insipration amongst a small group of women can have on a population and th elives of people shocked me.
In addition to these positive surprises I also experienced some negative shocks. Before stepping foot in Egypt I had no idea about the level of sexual harassement and sexual violence in this country. Trying to carefully live my life in Aswan became very difficult personally for me due to the level of sexual harassment, that I had never experienced to that degree before, neither in Sub-saharan Africa, nor in my travels in South America or Europe. Some of the experiences I had were horrific and I felt extremely limited in my movements outside of my work place and my apartment. These expereinces prompted me to speak to local Egyptian women, and research online to see what was going on. Was I the only one having this problem? Not at all. The Egyptian women I spoke to all told me that this is just how it was.. while most egyptian men denyied it and said no never! this is not egypt! Egypt is a great country. And it is a great country, and the people are so warm and friendly and the nile is beautiful and its waters are sweet. But there is a sexual harassment problem. And as long as it goes unaddressed and denied by Egyptians themselves it cannot improve. I became so passionate about this that I now want to pursue a PhD in Medical Anthropology, and research Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence to try to understand the causes and how we can stop it.