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A Passion to Lead: Part One

In this series of blog posts titled "A Passion to Lead" we will hear from different Team Coordinators and Team Leads about how they have been shaped by their various experiences of getting involved with PIH Engage. These individuals have stepped up to the challenge of driving their teams forward in the movement for the right to health, and you can too by applying to be a new Team Coordinator here

This first entry of the series focuses on new Team Coordinators who took on leadership of their team within the past campaign year. New leaders face particular challenges and learn on their feet about how to best organize their members towards action. These leaders have brought their insightful views to the table to describe what the first year as a Team Coordinator is like. 

See what they had to say below:

Katie Irwin - Team Coordinator of PIH Engage at Colby College (Waterville, ME)


"I don't want to sit idly by when I know that there are these great inequities in the world, and I feel like you don't have to wait to be involved in changing them."

- Katie Irwin, Team Coordinator, PIH Engage Colby College


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​What were the greatest challenges you faced since entering this new leadership role?
"I think the biggest challenge starting out the school year as a new TC was knowing that it was just me. I knew I had to bring a lot of the energy from the Training Institute and spread that energy so other people would also feel compelled to be involved. The first club fair was a little intimidating; I even made my best friend come stand at the table with me. But, eventually, I found that a lot of people are interested in these global health topics, but there just wasn't a medium to be involved with it on my campus."

On the Training Institute...
"The Training Institute was one of the most amazing experiences. Everyone who ran the Training Institute just had such incredible energy that they really passed on to everyone else. We said to ourselves that we could really be agents of change, and I feel like they gave us a lot of skills and knowledge so that we would be equipped to do just that. We have a lot of big goals - PIH is based on a lot of lofty goals - but they gave us so many concrete skills and ways of actually creating the change we want to see. It was also amazing to be in a place where everyone has this core value that health is a human right. I had never been a part of something where everyone has this common connection."

​What would you say to encourage someone to become a TC?
"[Being a TC is] probably one of the most worthwhile things you could be doing, especially if this is something that you really care about, trying to improve the access and quality of healthcare for other people. If that is something that compels you to act, then I would say that the TC position is a really motivating way to be involved. And I think you get to see, on both a small level and a big level, the changes you are making. On a small scale, you get to see members of your own club that are being inspired to take action and work on some sort of project, which you helped facilitate. That's really rewarding. Also on a bigger scale, with the Ten Days to Zero fundraiser for example, it was so rewarding to see that we had collectively contributed to this project, so much bigger than ourselves but that wouldn't have been possible without TCs and members of teams all across the country."

​I am a PIH Engage Team Coordinator because...
"I don't want to sit idly by when I know that there are these great inequities in the world, and I feel like you don't have to wait to be involved in changing them. I think that being a TC is a way to take action against that inequality."

 

​Kyung Moo Kim - Team Coordinator of PIH Engage at University of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI)​


"Part of PIH Engage is advocacy, and what PIH Engage does is make you aware of the right and power that you have as a student advocate. I think that was very valuable in shaping some sort of career plan for myself."
- Kyung Moo Kim, Team Coordinator, PIH Engage University of Hawaii


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What valuable lessons and skills has PIH Engage given you?
"I think since this organization [PIH] frames itself as a movement, being a part of that movement and passion was really helpful in creating an interest in global health where it is not really an issue, here. Being part of that passion was really helpful as well as the coaching calls with solid tips and advice on how to go about fostering a sense of community, solidarity, the story of self, etc... One of the reasons why PIH Engage has been so successful is because they develop all of the methods for you; having that support was absolutely monumental in creating a chapter here."

​What are some challenges you have faced since entering this new leadership role?
"One of the big benefits of PIH Engage is having the name recognition of Partners in Health over on the mainland of the continental U.S. But in Hawaii, that kind of awareness is lacking. Hawaii is very isolated, both politically and otherwise, so not having that brand was an interesting challenge. However, after people grew interested and they decided to invest their time, it snowballed from there."

​How has your experience with PIH Engage shaped your future goals?
"Part of PIH Engage is advocacy, and what PIH Engage does is make you aware of the right and power that you have as a student advocate. I think that was very valuable in shaping some sort of career plan for myself. My plan is to go on to medical school, but a global health career is something that I would like to get into. PIH Engage was a great way to develop that interest, partly because of that amazing support that is available to us and the solidarity of teams across campuses and the country."

​What would you say to encourage someone to become a TC?
​"When I was over at the Training Institute, I was very unsure of what this was all going to look like over here [in Hawaii}, but I think part of that uncertainty was what made it thrilling and interesting. Just the very fact of dealing with that uncertainty has been a source of huge personal growth for me."

​I am a PIH Engage Team Coordinator because...
​"I believe in the biosocial approach to medicine that PIH promotes."

Akshita Siddula - Team Coordinator of PIH Engage Chicago (Chicago, IL)


"A Team Coordinator position is about saying that you care very deeply about this and are willing to take the time to make this a priority in your life."
- Akshita Siddula, Team Coordinator, PIH Engage Chicago


Akshita_Siddula.jpgWhat are some of the challenges you have faced since entering this new leadership role?
"We're not on a campus and we don't have a home base or an easy way to recruit people. We've got a lot of interested people but to keep them involved and engaged and make it easy for them to do that has been a challenge for sure.... But one thing we started doing is going back to our roots and trying a horizontal leadership style.... Now, we have more people involved in the decision-making process and who feel ownership over different events and projects. This has made delegation, follow-through, and carry-out much easier."

​How has your experience with PIH Engage shaped your future goals?
"It's been a great networking opportunity, especially coming to the Training Institute and meeting all these people who are passionate about the exact same thing I am talking about. And a lot of people in the room were making careers out of it.... During the one and a half years I have been involved with Engage, I have really developed a better understanding about what global health looks like, what the possible careers are if you get an MPH (Master's of Public Health), and how you can apply that. It doesn't necessarily mean you'll be out in the fields somewhere in a developing country in a rural setting. There's a lot of global health that's being done by people placed domestically.... That whole side of global health advocacy I wasn't aware of until I joined PIH."

​What would you say to encourage someone to become a TC?
"I would always encourage someone to step up to the challenge. It may seem like a lot of responsibility, but I think Engage does a great job of building in different lead positions so that the brunt of the work and burden are shared by people. Delegation is part of the leadership style that Engage tries to teach its members. So, it's not stepping up to the challenge to be the only one accountable. A TC position is more about saying that you care very deeply about this and are willing to take the time to make this a priority in your life."

​I am a PIH Engage Team Coordinator because...
"I care. Chicago is not in any way considered a global health hub... there's not a lot of people doing this work, but there are a lot of people interested in doing this work. Engage is a great way to get people together because we all care about the same thing. I care that this continues and that Chicago's Engage continues to have a chapter long after I'm gone, because it's important to have people engaged in this important work."
Applications for New Team Coordinators are OPEN NOW!

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