The National Health Corps core competencies are public health, public health practice, cultural competency, communication, professional development, and civic engagement. These competencies precisely and succinctly sum up what the NHC AmeriCorps terms of service stands for. My year of service with NHC and CAN Community Health has helped me grow in all of those capacities and more, each in unique ways that I doubt I would have been able to develop anywhere else but here.
Prior to my service year, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Public and Community Health. I was introduced to the field of public health through an internship abroad at a local hospital in Mtowambu, Tanzania. During my internship, I had the opportunity to work with the hospital’s public health nurse and the head doctor. My love for public and community health only grew from there.
I remember going through the NHC Pre-Service Orientation and training on motivational interviewing, cultural competency and the importance of effective communication, just to name a few. Along with the training, we also had the opportunity to participate in different real world activities exposing us to the diverse population we would be serving at our respectful host sites.
One of the activities that resonated with me the most was a “Walk in My Shoes" activity. It gave us a perspective of a day in the life of those in a low-income community and some barriers they're presented with. During the activity, we were given a scenario of a mother with two children who had a one-day bus pass and $20 to spend at a local Walmart on healthy food for the day. Although we managed to complete the task, I remember reflecting on how stressful, challenging and exhausting it was traveling around on the city bus just to get access to food. It changed my entire perspective on access to basic life necessities.
Fast-forward to service at my host site with a client who could only hear by lip reading. As we were making our way to the testing room, I thought to myself where do I even start with this client?. Then I recalled the “Walk in My Shoes” activity and imagined myself in their position. I started speaking slowly and used non verbal gestures to communicate with them. Coming into this program, one of my aspirations was to make a memorable difference in at least one person’s life. I can confidently say NHC has allowed me to have that impact. Most importantly, it has immersed me with skills and knowledge that I doubt I would have been able to develop anywhere else.