From the classroom to the real world

I am now almost halfway through my field studies experience here in Guatemala City! This week I further refined my work plan for the rest of my time here. Last week I mentioned that my research focus and responsibilities have changed from what I originally expected. At first I was a bit discouraged and flustered by this, to be honest. I am still a little anxious about how everything will come together, but I’m happy to report that things seem to be moving in the right direction.

My supervisors have given me quite a bit of flexibility and liberty as far as developing a research question goes (which at first seemed intimidating). I knew they wanted me to shift my focus to something in the general topic area of migration, but taking this idea the rest of the way – to a full-blown research question – was left up to me. I decided to dig into the literature in order to start exploring topics related to migration that would also relate to Population Council’s mission of giving “voice and visibility to the world’s most vulnerable people” and improving the health and well-being of girls around the world. Throughout this research question development process, I thought about all the things I have learned in my global health classes, both at UCLA and during my undergraduate career studying public health at Ohio State. I thought about topics we have covered in classes such as Community Health Sciences 200 that could be relevant to migrant adolescent girls in developing countries such as Guatemala: violence and injury; maternal and child health; sexual and reproductive health; how social factors such as education and social support can affect health. I’ve learned to always consider populations and public health issues in context, so I made sure to think about everything with Latin America and the unique challenges that migration may present here. Once the paper starts to take shape and I start to formulate some potential policy or programming recommendations to present to the Council, I expect a lot of topics we discussed in my global health research ethics class will be helpful to consider as well. Adolescent girls and migrants are both vulnerable populations on their own, especially in developing countries, so I expect to see that adolescent girl migrants are especially burdened by some of the health issues I’m planning to explore.

Through a combination of doing some literature searches and thinking about my own prior knowledge and research interests, I ended up coming up with a question that I think is both interesting and important, relating migration and sexual/reproductive health knowledge. I’m working on outlining the paper now and then I’ll start digging into data. As always I will keep you all updated!

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