Megan Leiter spent a month this summer studying Global Health at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She explored the beautiful city throughout her time there and discovered many beautiful cultural and historic sites. The site she thought impacted her the most was the Anne Frank House. Seeing the aftermath of the Nazi regime was an emotionally jarring experience. Otto Von Frank requested that the house remain as the Nazi’s left it – empty. This experience was more meaningful after visiting other historic sites and learning the history behind the city. Amsterdam is a city that has persisted throughout occupations, fires, famines, and floods. Megan discovered this history by taking part in walking tours, visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum, and visiting the Dutch governmental capital, The Hague. In addition to learning about the history of the Netherlands, Megan had the chance to learn about her family’s history. With many ancestors hailing from the Netherlands, Megan had the chance to explore the area where her family used to live, Gelderland. She had the chance to visit two villages, Nunspeet and Elburg. In Nunspeet, she visited an art museum with galleries filled with art by local area artists. The other village, Elburg, was a village stuck in time. Many of the buildings were built centuries ago and would have been standing when Megan’s ancestors lived there. After walking the road her ancestors walked, Megan explored more of Amsterdam. She had the chance to visit many art museums, including Van Gogh, the Stedelijk, the Rijksmuseum, and the Kroller-Muller Museum. In addition, Megan had the opportunity to visit Haarlem, Zandavoort Beach, and Zaanse Schans. While exploring the Dutch Culture, Megan participated in two Global Health courses, one focusing on physical health and the other on mental health. In these courses, she learned about healthcare systems around the world and ways to measure how effective they are. The course on mental health looked at putting mental illness into a cultural context, as mental illness effects those in other countries differently. For example, in the United States, common symptoms of depression include alteration in sleep schedule and prolonged feelings of sadness, but in Japan common symptoms include stomach problems and nausea. Knowing these differences is important when evaluating patients as well as when working in the field in other countries. Megan’s experience in the Netherlands was an eye-opening adventure. She learned about healthcare and bettered herself for her future career and explored the wonderful culture of the Netherlands.
CEE Title: Myth Busters: Cracking the Cultural Code
Myths are a part of human history, but when myths become our perception of reality this is dangerous. Especially when these myths perpetuate harmful stereotypes about other people. And so, it is our mission to bust the myths about the countries we visited this summer. Each amazing myth buster on our team revealed the beautiful truth behind the myths and stereotypes that exist regarding our host country. Attendees heard about Politics beyond the Princess in the United Kingdom, what exists beyond the sex and drugs of center city Amsterdam, the cost of education in India, the uniqueness of Botswana beyond being in Africa, and the women’s rights that currently exists in Morocco. While each of these myths contain small truths, that is not the entirety of the reality in these beautiful places. There may be sex and drugs present in Amsterdam, but there is also a rich history, beautiful art, and breathtaking nature. Botswana may be an African nation, but there is so much uniqueness to the culture in Botswana that distinguishes it from every other individual African nation. Education is important in India, yet much of the population does not have the opportunity to attend secondary and higher education because of their circumstance, but regardless of education level there is beautiful culture present in India. And while many think that women’s rights are non-existent in Morocco, there is a growing movement in the country, as well as a deep respect for women within their culture. It is important to realize that beyond the stereotypes, myths, and snap judgements we make about other countries, cultures, and individuals, there is so much more depth. And it is our duty to bust these myths and reveal the beauty of the truth about our countries and about each other.