Snapshots of September (.. and October) – Reflecting on What We’ve Learned So Far
I think that every intern at FullSoul has experienced a whirlwind of questions and uncertainties the first time they step into the labour ward. For us it was no different. Even though each of us have our respective responsibilities, projects, and tasks for the Maternal Health Project, we all come into our positions as students ready to learn.
Alison has been working hard to iron out the last few details of FullSoul’s funding applications and implementation plans for next year, Anna is developing thorough evaluation and data collection plans to measure our expansion project’s impact, and Lorien is working with a few partnered organizations to answer questions about the patterns of tool sterilization that we’ve observed.
In addition to these specialized projects, each of us is working with University of Waterloo’s Oscar Nespoli to practice design thinking as it applies to our new setting. We meet with Oscar weekly to reflect upon a thought-provoking experience or need that we’ve observed, and we plan to dedicate part of our time in the second half of the co-op term to complete individual case studies based upon a need that inspires us.
This may sound vague; it sounded vague to us too, at first. But all three of us are finding that these assignments are becoming really powerful tools for us to reflect on gaps we see inside and outside of the labour ward. FullSoul is always looking for ways to expand its capabilities and address problems on all levels of maternal health. By engaging in this reflective practice, we give ourselves time to take a step back and ask why we notice the things we do during our observation shifts. The type of problems we may talk about may be about communication, they may be about ergonomics, or they may even be about environmental sustainability.
One of the exercises the three of us completed together was to try to find connections between problems that the other two had expressed. This was an interesting way to identify common themes between very diverse problems. It also helps us to ask questions about how maternal health may be impacted by factors that are far removed from the labour ward. We like teaming up in activities like this because each of us brings different ideas to the table, usually related our respective programs back at the University of Waterloo 🙂
Because we are living and working in a culture and setting that is brand new to each of us, the weekly reflections have helped us to monitor the role that we play in our project with FullSoul’s partnered healthcare facilities. The practice of design thinking has put us in a strong learning mindset, which is essential both as co-op students and also as visitors to Uganda. We are thankful to our teachers: midwives, students, Rotarians, administrative staff, and other friends we’ve met so far along the way.
To commemorate the moments and memories we’ve made so far, here is a video;