This September, I am approaching my one year anniversary with the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network. So, as is customary with these kinds of things, I’ve decided to reflect a bit on my time with the organization.
Last year, I saw a post from a former classmate looking for a volunteer social media coordinator. As someone with an interest in global health issues and experience with social media, I was excited about the opportunity to volunteer my time for an organization focused on global health.
However, to be honest, I started volunteering without knowing much about the organization or the need for non-communicable disease treatment in low- and middle-income countries. To me, “global health” was almost synonymous with infectious disease. When I thought of “global health” I thought of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Polio, Dengue, Yellow Fever, Cholera. Never would I have thought about diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or cancer.
YP-CDN changed that.
As YP-CDN’s volunteer social media coordinator, I first saw myself as nothing more but the designated social media junkie. My duties would include “liking”, “retweeting”, “tagging”, and choosing the perfect filter to make our leadership team and members look the best.
Time changed that.
After the first month or so and after a short exec team retreat in New York, I learned what my true role would be.
Role Number 1: Learner
Why in the world did I think low- and middle-income countries did not bear the NCD burden?!
Our globalized world is evolving and changing. People are living longer and living differently than they did just five or ten years ago. As a result, the prevalence of NCDs is growing everywhere.
Why did I think diabetes was only an issue in the global north when I knew I could buy a bottle of Coke in Sierra Leone for less than a bottle of water?
I quickly learned NCDs are a growing problem no matter the latitude at which you live. I learned the prevalence of NCDs can even be greater in low- and middle-income countries. Moreover, these countries often lack the resources or political will to provide necessary treatment and medications.
I now have a more complete outlook on “global health” and the issues it involves. I’ve developed a basic understanding of the problems. The next step is to understand the solutions.
That might take more than a year...
Role Number 2: Reporter
Being a social media coordinator often means I am partially responsible for telling the world what our crazy, wonderful network of young advocates is up to around the world.
I have to admit this is the most boring role I have -- at least on paper -- and while these are the responsibilities I am going to list on my resume I won’t list them here.
Put simply, my social media position involved a lot of emails, time spent scanning news sources (I really like NPR. My apologies if you don’t), and time spent scheduling posts in my handy-dandy hootsuite dashboard.
Nonetheless, I enjoy it. If you are wondering why, see “Number 3”.
Role Number 3: Just watching and being amazed.
Never have I so often felt both inspired and inadequate than when I’m posting about our network members.
If you are a YP-CDN board member, exec team member, chapter leader, or just an active member of our network, I just want to say.....well......hmmm.
Words might not be sufficient and while a picture is worth a thousand words, we live in the age of the gif so…
You all are ah-mazing! There is a reason why #ChangeMakers and #MultiplyChange are tagged on to almost every post I make.
Pretty soon the phrase “Multiply Change” might not be the best way to describe what you all are doing. Soon we may have to start using exponents! And, surely within the next decade only imaginary numbers will be able to represent the complex change sparked by our beautiful network! (I may have taken the math metaphor a bit far...)
Anyway, I think what I am trying to say is thank you! Being a part of this network and being able to learn, observe, and share your work has been great. I look forward to posting, sharing, liking, and retweeting more for you all in the future.
P.S. Come find us out in cyberspace! We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn