blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff
Even though I only spent a few hours in her presence during her session with the Global Youth Connect NYC program, Shulamith Koenig, the recipient of the 2003 UN Human Rights Award, has already a great influence on my critical thinking, allowing me to develop from a mere observer into a true learner. Learning is a process that does not only include receiving information (according to Shula, this is merely what education offers). Rather, learning is inclusive. It is about inter-connecting and inter-relating. It is those concepts that make a learner a true one, and ensure progressive realization in our minds. I was deeply impressed by how quickly I appreciated and identified with Shula’s concept of ‘Holistic Vision of Human Rights as a Way of Life’ and the importance of Human Rights Learning.
Moreover, the very next evening, I felt myself a part of a holistic learning process while watching the film ‘Escape Fire’ at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. The film made me holistically re-view everything in my mind surrounding medicine. One of the points the film succeeded to make was the importance of primary medicine which is under-valued in the United States: only 25% of the money allocated for healthcare is spent on primary medicine while 75% of the budget is spent on advanced medicine. This has in turn economized the healthcare system in the country, making people rely on purchasing pharmacies’ drugs in an unrealized process of switching from one disease to another. There is a quote I always believed in, which says ‘If there are two possible solutions for a problem, usually the simpler one is the true one.’ Primary medicine, which could also include preventive medicine and alternative medicine, is more essential than advanced medicine. In primary medicine, healing patients comes true by looking at the causes rather than considering the symptoms only.
Watching Escape Fire reminded me of an inspiring conversation I had with my girlfriend’s father, Dr George Strasser, who argued that studying medicine must be at the right level. This comes from his theory that one can become over-educated for the place where he or she wants to work. He asked me ‘where do you see yourself in twenty years?’ I said I see myself working as a doctor in Palestine. He smiled and said ‘‘advancing in medicine in top US universities might not be the best idea; you need to be careful you do not get over-educated to an extent that you cannot deal with your Palestinian patients who mainly have primary illnesses and injuries.’’
I also was reminded of having a conversation with one of the most inspiring women I met in my life, Mrs Kiki Smulders, who is now working on a research about Alternative Medicine, and who is starting soon her blog on Women’s Mental Health. In fact, she was the first one to put my ideas in words and develop them very constructively. She herself has gone through an experience where only alternative medicine could figure out her problem. She told me how all her previous doctors took a shorter pathway to heal her, but they never succeeded as short-term treatment does not guarantee a long-term healthy life. Sadly, most doctors, and maybe patients, prefer to have quick treatments, ignoring the fact that ‘what comes quickly, also diminishes quickly.’
Last year, I volunteered in a hospital in Palestine for three weeks, and today, I am volunteering for one week in an American hospital/clinic in New York City, called the Floating Hospital of Long Island City. Regardless of the difference of the development of the two societies, in both cases there is much confirmation to the crucial need for primary medicine, preventive medicine, and alternative medicine. As a human being, I no longer perceive my human right as getting healed for today. Rather, I believe in my human right to get healed also for tomorrow.
No matter how expanded our vocabulary gets, we cannot understand the true meaning of the facts we speak, until we ourselves experience them. Does such theory need to carry on though? As humans, we need to communicate, to interact, and to feel each other. Here is where the concept of ‘learning’ becomes necessary before we ourselves lack something essential in our lives. GYC in its 2012 program on Human Rights Learning realises the importance of addressing human rights issues in the developed society of New York City, without the need for such society to be under-developed in order to attract attention.
I have learned so much so far, and the journey is continuing. Yesterday, I learned about the healthcare system in the US. Today, I am volunteering in a hospital for primary medicine. Tomorrow, I will spread the message to the globe: let’s learn.