Rebecca Dieterich spent seven weeks in Cape Town, South Africa volunteering and observing in several different health facilities. In the public sector, she was introduced to small rural health clinics with very limited resources and funding. On the other hand, she also saw an advanced hospital with trained specialists and the required resources to provide quality care to all patients. In the rural health clinics, Rebecca was exposed to many critically ill patients including several with gang violence related wounds. Apart from emergency situations, she saw first hand the devastation of the HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis epidemic throughout South Africa. She toured an Anti-Retroviral unit and was introduced to the struggle of keeping patients on treatment and reducing the transmission of Tuberculosis to susceptible HIV patients. Rebecca was introduced to South Africa’s health system at a critical time as a new National Health Insurance program has recently been introduced to the country. She was able to meet with the CEO of Rob Ferriera Hospital, in Mpumalanga province, to discuss the possible changes and was given invaluable logistical insight on South Africa’s healthcare system. Along with her clinical encounters, Rebecca took part in a service project in Egoli, an informal settlement without running water or ample electricity. She helped raise funds and took part in the installation of flood lights to illuminate the public toilets that were previously dangerous for women to use at night. This community development aspect gave Rebecca an unforgettable and multi-faceted international experience that will carry throughout her professional and personal life.
The 2013 Duquesne University Vira I. Heinz cohort hosted an on-campus event that was created from the varying experiences each member had abroad. From Sub-Sahara Africa to Europe and the Middle East, society’s exploitation and misrepresentation of women is an evident social dilemma. Here in the States it is possible to say that such misrepresentation is even more rampant as media; whether film, or television, is increasing its influence. Young teenage girls are especially vulnerable to these mass-produced exaggerated and often unrealistic ideals. The lack of women behind the scenes of media production is a stark reality that certainly is not helping the absence of strong, realistic, and relatable women role models for the next generation. In order to spread awareness and open discussion concerning these misconceptions, a screening and discussion of the documentary Miss Representation was held on Duquesne’s campus on Tuesday, February 18th. As the college generation has been fully saturated with the media’s influence and are now preparing to enter “the real world”, current university students are a great population to target for such an event. After an introduction of the purpose and goals of the event, the entire film was screened and thoughtful discussion followed. The group discussion centered on personal opinions about the issues brought up in the film and possible actions we, as young adults, can take to help diminish the harmful effects of the media’s representation of women. If we as individuals commit to take some sort of action, no matter how small, hopefully awareness will spread and others will realize the importance of appropriate role models and for young women.