Questions to ask before a global health elective:

What are all my reasons for pursuing this global health elective?
Am I accepting of my less altruistic motivations?
Is there a cost to satisfying these motivations and if so, who will pay that price?

Do I feel a need to intervene in the lives of others to make them “better”?
If so, where did it come from? What are the assumptions behind it?
How do I know if this intervention is wanted?

How would I tolerate being on the receiving end of such intervention, from somebody from a very different culture, with whom I can not communicate adequately?

Are my gut instincts sufficient in assessing my impact on a community I visit?

If there is an inherent risk of community harm through my presence, is the proven benefit to my own education worth the risk of that harm? Should this be my decision alone?

How do power imbalances impede my ability to understand how welcome or useful I am?
To what extent will I ever know the full impact of my involvement in a vulnerable community?

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~ by kcanderson on March 1, 2009.

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